Thanksgiving celebrations mark 40 years of Jesuit Social Services

Mass at St Ignatius' Church in Richmond, Vic., commences a year of celebrations.

Jesuit Social Services has kicked off its 40 year celebrations with an anniversary Mass at St Ignatius Church, Richmond.

Didgeridoo performance by Brent Watkins during the Mass

Didgeridoo performance by Brent Watkins during the Mass

Around 100 people attended the Mass, including former Jesuit Provincials, Fr Patrick O’Sullivan SJ (who authorised the founding of Jesuit Social Services), Fr Bill Uren SJ and Fr Steve Curtin SJ, former Jesuit Social Services CEO Bernie Geary, and past and current board and committee members.

The Mass featured a didgeridoo welcome by Artful Dodgers Studios participant Brent Watkins, as well as music by Xavier College students.

The Mass gave thanks for 40 years of Jesuit Social Services, and to everyone involved in the life and spirit of the organisation. The Mass was celebrated by Australian Jesuit Provincial, Fr Brian McCoy SJ, and concelebrated by Jesuit Social Services’ Fr Dave Ryan SJ and Fr Andy Hamilton SJ, along with Fr Robin Koning SJ.

In his homily, Fr McCoy said: ‘From humble beginnings with eight young adults in Four Flats in 1977 to those many thousands who have been involved since then as staff, board members, participants, volunteers, friends and companions, we have good reason to pause and give thanks for many things, particularly those gifts of mercy offered, shared and received.’

Fr McCoy also spoke to the mercy that underpins Jesuit Social Services’ work and reminded attendees that each of us is ‘more than the worst thing we’ve ever done’. The homily is available in full on the here.

At the beginning of the Mass, symbols that represent Jesuit Social Services’ values were presented and placed in front of the altar. These included tea cups to represent relationship and hospitality (welcoming), a candle to represent a reflective nature (discerning), and an image of fire to represent the fire in the belly that compels us to go where the need is greatest (courageous).

Soil from the Brosnan Centre, Jesuit Social Services’ Brunswick office, was utilised to represent the organisation’s origins. The participants were invited to reflect on the values and the spirit which have marked their contribution to the work of Jesuit Social Services.

The Mass was followed by a convivial morning tea at Jesuit Social Services’ Richmond office, where Aunty Pam Pedersen welcomed the attendees to Country and Patricia Faulkner, board chair, spoke about Jesuit Social Services’ milestone year.