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Serving in a disconnected world


The important role that Centacare Catholic Family Services plays in helping to connect people in a ‘disconnected world’ was highlighted at the Centacare managers’ development forum held last month.

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Attending the first session, Archbishop Patrick O’Regan spoke fondly of the work of Centacare, describing its staff as “agents of communion” through their support of the most vulnerable in the community.

“We know that human life is never perfect; it always has flaws, it always has rough edges, it’s always imperfect, but we are trying to make it less imperfect as possible,” he said.

While the managers meet six times a year, the first gathering of 2022 – which would normally include the commissioning ceremony – had to be postponed due to COVID. It was held at the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry’s Otherway Centre in Stepney on May 18, with Centacare director Pauline Connelly describing the “sense of joy” at seeing almost 60 managers from sites across the State gathering together in the same room.

“It is so good to come and meet together after everything that we have all experienced,” she said.

“So many times I have heard people say, I am so over Zoom, I am so over Skype – and I just want to see my colleagues face-to-face.”

The forum opened with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony performed by Centacare manager, John Lochowiak.

Archbishop O’Regan then took part in the commissioning ceremony in the beautiful St Martin De Porres Chapel, with each manager receiving a small plant in recognition of Laudato Si’ Week before collectively reciting the commissioning prayer.

Ms Connelly said the annual ceremony was a ritual that had been observed at Centacare for many years.

“It is an opportunity to commit or recommit to the responsibilities you are taking on as a manager in Centacare,” she told the group.

“In the midst of our busyness we do not offer many chances to step back and see the results of our input or influence, or see how we have been shaped and how we have grown.

“Once a year it is good to stop and remember why we are here.”

Deputy director Leanne Haddad added that the ceremony drew on the Christian tradition that informs society of “compassion, kindness and inclusive”.

“In unity we look to what is ahead, with awareness of the opportunity we have to make a difference,” she said.

“Leadership is a gift and it is a fine blend between bravery and compassion and we will support you to live that.”

The morning activities concluded with a sustainability workshop conducted by Sarah Moffatt, a member of the Archdiocese’s Council for Integral Ecology.



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