Caritas a shining beacon, building a Church without walls or borders

26 Nov 2020

By Eric Leslie Martin

The annual Caritas Thanksgiving Day was held at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Highgate on Thursday 19 November, with the celebration of the Eucharist followed by a buffet meal. Photo: Supplied.

Caritas Australia, the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency, has appointed its first board of directors, a move dictated by the recent incorporation process commenced by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference over a year ago – to foster improved accountability, transparency and governance practices.

The board, which replaces the previous National Advisory Council, offers a cross-section of experience and skills which will enrich Caritas Australia’s engagement with the Catholic sector and the Australian public.

Locally, the annual Caritas Thanksgiving Day was held at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Highgate on Thursday 19 November, with a Mass celebrated by Father Nino Vinciguerra and assisted by Deacon Paul Stacy.

Deacon Paul Reid, Social & Ecological Justice Animator WA/SA, gave an address that reflected on the difficulties society has faced during 2020 with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a day when we come together as advisory committee, volunteers, school and parish representatives, other agencies, individual donors and friends of Caritas to pause and reflect on those we serve and thank those who have worked with us in carrying out our mission,” Dcn Reid said.

“This has meant a significant downturn in our fundraising through Project Compassion – however the willingness to give, albeit a lesser amount, to those who most need our help was still very much alive.

“I just want to express how grateful we are at Caritas for the generosity of giving and sharing of talents, time and financial support – all for those who we serve in the poorest of the poor.”

Robert Fitzgerald AM, Caritas’ inaugural Chairman of the Board, said Caritas’ work among marginalised communities is in line with Micah 6:8, the Christian call to “act justly, love mercifully, and walk humbly with our God”.

“Caritas Australia is a shining beacon in the life of the Catholic Church in Australia and beyond – a Church without walls or borders,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Caritas Australia has been driven by solidarity and compassion in action across its 55-year history in this country and beyond.

“Our people and partners listen to and journey with those in most need. It is with great hope that I take on the role as Chair, and I commit myself and our board to make even more of a positive impact for vulnerable people globally, in the certain belief that we can do so.”

The Bishops’ Conference made the decision to incorporate Caritas Australia following considerable discernment and reflection on the best stewardship for the future of the agency.

Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM will step down as Caritas Australia’s Chair but will remain on as an active board director alongside Sr Patty Faulkner AO, Virginia Bourke, Jack de Groot, Christine Grima, Wendy Hughes, and Dr Martin Laverty.