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School and parish rally to help families after abattoir fire

Local

In the wake of the devastating fire at Thomas Foods International’s abattoirs in Murray Bridge last week, the St Joseph’s school community is rallying to help families who have been affected.

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Deputy principal Erika Dixon said the school had reached out and tried to make contact with the more than 60 families at St Joseph’s who have been directly impacted by the fire and had offered their “prayers and support”. She said the school community was committed to providing assistance to the families in this “time of unknown”.

In the short term as a practical gesture of support, the school is collecting school uniforms donated by the community which will be passed on to families at St Joseph’s who may be in need in the lead up to the start of the 2018 school year.

In a letter to the whole school community this week, Ms Dixon thanked those who were supporting this initiative.

“Small acts of kindness make a big difference,” she wrote.

“As a Catholic community Pope Francis offers us some wisdom on hope that we can take inspiration from at this time, ‘when life gets hard and you have fallen, get up. Never stay down. Get up and let people help you to your feet. Never lose heart.’ He assures us that God’s love graces each of us with lasting and sustaining hope.

“As prophets of hope for the future we rise by lifting others. I know that in the coming weeks the St Joseph’s school community will come together in support of each other and that our community will grow in strength.”

One of the country’s largest abattoirs, the Murray Bridge facility employed 1400 workers prior to the fire.

Local parish priest Fr John Herd said many families affected by the fire were from the Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese and Malaysian communities.

He said since the fire the parish had held prayer gatherings, Mass and shared meals so people could “share their worries and so we can support each other”.

“It’s been important for us to provide some opportunities for families to come together and pray,” he said, adding that a parish luncheon for those affected is planned in the near future.

“The immediate concerns of the workers are about paying their mortgages or rent, meeting their living costs and securing ongoing employment,” he said.

Fr Herd met with local MP Adrian Pederick this week to discuss the problems facing the families affected, particularly rental agreements which are fixed for six or 12 month periods.

“Catholic social teaching speaks of the priority of labour over capital and the dignity of the worker.

“I hope in this time of crisis for many workers and their families that employers and government will ensure that the interests of workers are well looked after,” Fr Herd said.

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