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“I consider it my vocation to tell people that the value of wanting to have a dignified life, wanting to have a better future for themselves and their children, should not be simply seen as a burden or a liability to our society. But they can, and they do indeed become great contributors and builders of our nation.” Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv spoke at the national Catholic social services conference, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, in February this year about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.

Congratulations to Francis Sullivan who has been elected the new chair of Catholic Social Services Australia Ltd (CSSA) during the first meeting of the entity since its recent consolidation. He is currently the executive chair of the board at Mater Group, which comprises several hospitals, health centres, an education provider and a research institute. Mr Sullivan takes over the role from Maria Harries, who had served as chair of Catholic Social Services Australia for the past seven years. We thank Maria Harries for her years of years of service.

Have we the capacity to let our broken hearts speak? Can we dare to be different, to humbly accept that our ways of seeing things, reacting to things, proclaiming things needs to change? … Have we stopped hearing the cries of the poor, the oppressed, the misunderstood and the strange ones?” Francis Sullivan, former CEO of the Truth, Justice & Healing Council posed these questions, and many more, in our new book, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion.

"Looking to how we might creatively respond to need, Mary Mackillop, a great pioneer of social services in Australia comes to mind as her canonisation clicked over ten years last week. Sr Joan Healy, life member of Catholic Social Services Victoria, in an oration at the first anniversary of Mary’s canonisation asked 'How can the spirit of Mary be earthed in this time?' She emphasised the need to embrace Mary’s attitude of 'not being fearful' and adopt a conviction of 'letting go' to bring about change. Sr Joan urged a consciousness of the precious tradition that is held by Catholic social services, since 'the Gospel is radical'. These are words for our time, too — we need a radical, creative and cooperative response if we want our agencies to adequately respond and bring about a fair and just society. Read more in the October eNewsletter, here.

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