There is an energy beating throughout Montmorency’s St Francis Xavier Parish. It is a force that is embraced by both its most experienced parishioners as well as its youth. And the latter have firmly established themselves as crucial contributors to the parish’s outstanding social outreach.
Since 2008, the parish has worked closely with aid and development organisation, Kadasig
, a non-profit group based in Australia that works towards improving the lives of children and families in the Philippines.
In February 2018, accompanied by a parent each, a group of five students from the parish’s neighbouring primary school, Holy Trinity
, embarked on a two week social outreach trip to the Philippines.
The journey followed a series of similar trips undertaken by parishioners and Kadasig’s Founder, Glenys Gayfer. It was the second time a contingent including students had travelled to the Philippines.
The Holy Trinity students met some of their Filipino counterparts at a Friendship School on the central Filipino island of Cebu. They provided basic school needs to the small school and relished the unique opportunity for friendships to be formed. Despite an obvious language barrier, the visiting and local children became deeply connected.
The trip also coincided with recent recovery efforts following a devastating fire in Pasil, Cebu. The group were invited to witness the damage and recovery efforts being made.
Approximately 300 families were affected by the fire believed to have been ignited by a child playing with matches or a lighter. The fire quickly tore through the houses, many of which were built with plywood. Sadly four children and one adult perished.
The visit proved to be an emotional, sobering experience that highlighted the privilege the travelling party live with each day and served to pinpoint where Kadasig’s future fundraising efforts needed to be directed.
Parish Priest, Fr Terry Kean with Kadasig Founder, Glenys Gayfer
The students remarked that the opportunity to represent their school and parish had been a treasured experience. Similarly, the five parents who accompanied the Holy Trinity students stressed that the trip had been an invaluable opportunity for their children to be immersed in a vastly different environment, where hardship and poverty are widespread and profoundly confronting.
Closer to home, Montmorency’s aid initiatives bring positive change to local groups and organisations. Their outreach work is fundamental to the parish’s identity and in recent times, has included a diverse range of activities such as food waste management initiatives, a warm clothing drive, cleaning and furnishing accommodation for the Eltham Refugee Project as well as hosting several events designed to raise funds and awareness for organisations such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Montmorency Asylum Seeker Support Group.
St Francis Xavier’s Parish Priest, Fr Terry Kean, has placed considerable emphasis on the parish’s social outreach programs throughout his 13 year tenure in Montmorency. His enthusiasm and steadfast commitment to assisting those in need is echoed by parishioners and there is a firm desire to continue.