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Expo marks 80 years of meeting the need


Past and present staff, clients and community leaders came together to celebrate Centacare Catholic Family Service's 80th anniversary last week.

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Held at St Aloysius College on October 11, the colourful expo featured a pictorial timeline and stalls promoting Centacare programs and services.

After a Welcome to Country by Centacare Aboriginal Services manager John Lochowiak and an address from director Pauline Connelly, Archbishop Patrick O’Regan led a moving liturgy which included the blessing of a cross from the entrance of Fennescey House, where Centacare was located for many years.

“Thanks be to God for this wonderful work of mercy, thank you to those who had the vision 80 years ago, and those who through thick and thin, difficult times and happy times have sustained that vision and made it real for the times in which we live…may the good God continue to bless the work of Centacare in its next 80 years,” Archbishop O’Regan said.

Ms Connelly acknowledged the tens of thousands of people who needed Centacare’s assistance over the years and who still do.

“It is an honour to be in that space of vulnerability with them. It is often an intense experience for us all but…it is in those moments where we most deeply live our mission, and experience what our calling really is,” she said.

“I acknowledge all previous staff who are with us today, and those who have gone before us. I cannot speak to all of your experiences, your stories, the happenings and connections that only you know, but I can say thank you, because you left an impression that has never disappeared, and has been built upon, story by story, a foundation of experiences with our clients and each other, and as we know, it is in fact our clients who change our lives.

“The results of you having been part of the mission of Centacare continues to have influence all these years later, through the ripple effect of positive change, memories and stories being passed on.” She paid tribute to Dale West, the longest-serving director (32 years), and Bernie Victory, assistant director for 35 years, who were present at the expo.

Minister for Human Services Nat Cook

South Australian Minister for Human Services Nat Cook spoke about the important work of Centacare with “people in our community who are marginalised”.

She said one of the biggest issues in our society was generational poverty and disadvantage.

Praising Centacare’s Breathing Space program, which supports young women who have experienced removal of a child or children from their care, Minister Cook said she was the child of a 16-year-old mother.

“I am an adopted baby, I have reconnected with my birth mother and we have had those very difficult conversations,” she said. “She didn’t get that opportunity…”

“So all of these programs that have a focus on the interruption of generational disadvantage and poverty are very close to my heart.”

Minister Cook noted the important work of Centacare with the marginalised, “those people who with bad government policy simply slip over the edge into vulnerability, people with disability, people living in poverty, older people, people who perhaps sometimes have made the decision that has left the wanting, left them needing and left them vulnerable”.

“We together need to not judge those decisions or their origin, we need to look at the journey and then judge ourselves for what we did along the way, and I will be part of that with you,” she said.


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