Last weekend our parish celebrated jointly our patrons Mary and St Kizito who is the patron saint of our sister parish in Malawi. I had been asked to say a few words on what it means to be part of our parish and what motivated me to join the Malawi Support Group.
I first joined the parish in 1983, becoming a catholic in 1986 and I think I can say what it meant to me then, applies equally to day, that is to be part of a vibrant community.
That community like the branches of a tree needs nourishment. For me that nourishment of community has its expression in a parish fellowship and friendship together, a spiritual uplifting liturgy, sharing in a common faith and hope that enhance our wellbeing. To join in our parish is to join in a communal oasis. A sanctuary to be sustained in a renewed reverence for life. Hence I rather like the expression, the deer refreshed from the cool steams.
Turning to the second question on what motivated me to join the Malawi Support group I also begin with the idea of community which was the primary motivational force, to share one community’s gifts with another.
Many years ago when I belonged to an Anglican Fellowship I was interested in communities abroad and drawn to become their Missionary Secretary, raising small amounts of money for African missions.
So my interest in a sister parish in Malawi was a natural corollary that quickly caught my attention, just after formation. My motivation arises from a desire to share our gifts with those in the poorest communities, wherever they are but particularly in Africa and in Malawi.
For me there was strong motivation to help in a small way the warm heart of Malawi and Africa, cradle of our civilisation, bleeding badly to day.
Just after the talk we shared with the congregation recent photos from Malawi. The photos are also posted on the Malawi Website(click here to view) and include pictures of women knitting sweaters for orphans for the coming cold season.
Currently there is a group of 60 girls learning to knit and trying to improve their English. All have just about completed knitting hats and sweaters for themselves. Fr. Paddy Hagan from Mtsiriza who has also started a small project where he is distributing fruit tree seedlings for folk to plant trees.
Their mosquito net scheme is proving to be an effective deterrent to the incidence of malaria, with nets distributed by woman vendors who make a small profit of 20KW on each net sold. Their VCT-ARV clinic dispenses AIDS drugs for aids sufferers as part of the home based care centre and has up to 35 clients a day.
At the same time we also presented contrasting scenes of our own parish life, to give a perspective of the two communities.
On the Saturday evening as part of that celebration we were entertained in our School Hall by the ‘DEGENERATES”, a musical group of fathers of students attending Genazzao school in Melbourner who had kindly agreed to play for us on the night. The dollars raised on the night go to a parish fund for the legal costs for our friends we are currently supporting in an application to allow them to stay in Australia.
It was great night and we look forword to having the “THE DEGENARATES “back in the future for a fully supported function.
I had the pleasure of singing one number with the band, "White Christmas" as one of our parishioners has requested it. He had served in the Merchant Navy in WW2, and tells the story of how morale was low, following an Air raid, when over the loud speakers they heard the recording of “White Christmas” which immediately had a calming effect, as morale was restored. Just as it did on so many other occasions during WW2.