Evangelizare pauperibus misit me…pauperes evangelizantur “He has sent me to evangelize the poor”
This quotation from Luke 4:18 which is the motto of the Oblates sums up the motive that led Saint Eugene de Mazenod to the priesthood. He was struck by the spiritual abandonment of the poorer classes of his time. He founded a band of missionaries to evangelize them. It is the one expression that best describes the specific character of the Oblate: missionary of the poor. The poor are the preferred objects of the Oblate’s missionary and pastoral activity. Evangelization of the poor is their distinguishing and specific character, not specifically because they are poor, but because they are abandoned. Such was the conviction of St. Eugene. Such has been the conviction of Oblates down through the years.
Generations of Oblates, seeking to remain faithful to his inspiration, have sought to discern who were the abandoned of their times. Their discernment has led them to give their preference to the materially poor and marginalised. Especially in recent years, there has been a marked concern for active solidarity with these people, a solidarity which is manifested in both lifestyle and choice of ministries. As in 1816, the “poor with their many faces” are the preferred subjects of the Oblate’s contribution to the evangelising mission of the Church.
For this month’s Moment of Grace, we take a look at the work of St . Patrick’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle. St Patrick’s Community Support Centre (St Pat’s) is a specialist homelessness service that has been working side-by-side with vulnerable people in the community for 50 years. They deliver a range of specialist, evidence-based services designed to break the cycle of homelessness and disadvantage, including housing, health, welfare and emergency relief and social inclusion.
St Pat’s reflects a rich history in the City of Fremantle. Evolving from a simple meals service opened by the Presbytery of St Patrick’s Fremantle Parish Church (now the Basilica of St Patrick’s), it is today, one of Western Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisations helping the homeless.
Their story lies at the heart of the Fremantle community and started in 1972, when a frail and elderly man appeared at the door of the Presbytery seeking help. He was cold, hungry and in serious need of care.
Brother Ignatius Hannick, with the support of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, quickly set about establishing a soup kitchen to address the growing need for help amongst many in the community. Shortly afterwards, with donations of food and support from volunteers – the first meals service commenced in the original school (now the Parish Hall). It was in this spirit that St Patrick’s Community Support Centre was born.
Brother Ignatius’s dream has not only been realized but has expanded to support an entire community for more than four decades. In this video, we learn more about St Pat’s and the incredible work they do reaching out to the most abandoned in their community.
For a downloadable version of this months Moment of Grace – click here