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Turning back the clock


Parishioners at St Bernadette’s Church in St Marys took a trip down memory lane this month when they enjoyed a meal of lentils and rice to honour the 60th anniversary of ‘Hungry Sunday’.

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In 1963, following the United Nations’ launch of the international Freedom from Hunger Campaign three years earlier, the fledgling St Marys parish ran a fundraiser called Hungry Sunday to show their support for people in developing countries where hunger, disease and poverty were rampant.

In a speech to celebrate the golden jubilee of the event, founding member and long-term parishioner, David Shinnick, detailed how that on Sunday May 19 1963, 80 people from the parish gathered to enjoy a bowl of boiled rice and lentil sauce – a meal symbolising the diet of millions of people around the world. A total of 310 pounds was raised and sent to the Jesuit Mission at Hazaribagh in India.

The following year, the then Adelaide Archbishop Matthew Beovich gave permission for a similar appeal to be held during Lent. Appeals were also initiated in the Sydney and Wagga Wagga diocese and in 1965 what is now known as the Project Compassion Lenten appeal was launched.

Run annually by the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency, Caritas Australia, Project Compassion last year raised $8.5m nationally to support numerous overseas communities experiencing war, political upheaval, famine and natural disasters.

Nearly 60 years after the first Hungry Sunday fundraiser was held, about 100 parishioners from St Bernadette’s and Holy Spirit Church in Seacombe Gardens gathered to recreate the original event, once again enjoying a meal of either Indian, Italian or Greek style lentils and rice.

Caritas ambassador, Sabrina Dumont, said it was a joyous celebration and for some parishioners brought back many memories.

“Many of our older parishioners were here when they held Hungry Sunday 60 years ago and they felt a real sense of nostalgia and strong connection with the event,” she said.

Parish priest Fr Joseph Raja said with such a multicultural community, food was always a part of parish celebrations and on Hungry Sunday, many parishioners welcomed the lentils and rice as their only meal of the day to show their solidarity for the current food insecurity situation in the Horn of Africa.



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