Parish and schools unite to put food on the table

Parish and schools unite to put food on the table thumbnail
Photo: Alphonsus Fok, Connect Newsletter, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

By Debbie Cramsie

The school community at St Ursula’s College at Kingsgrove take their motto – ‘SERVIAM’, meaning ‘I Will Serve’ – very seriously.

So much so they not only served – but prepared – over 400 meals to help those vulnerable in their local area.

Believed to be a first for Sydney Catholic Schools, the College along with neighbouring primary school, Our Lady of Fatima, joined forces with One Meal to live out their school charism to help those in need.

Established in December 2014 by Paul and Diana Mackin to provide a one-off Christmas meal for those who would otherwise go without, today it operates 15 services each week in locations across Sydney and has welcomed the support from the Kingsgrove community with open arms.

Traditionally supporters of neighbouring parish Our Lady of Fatima Peakhurst‘s One Meal Service as part of its Social Justice Program, the Kingsgrove schools decided to introduce their own version due to its enormous success.

More than 60 teachers from both schools spent hours of their own time in their own kitchens making 400 nutritious home-cooked meals which they distributed while braving the cold to anyone who needed them.

Photo: Alphonsus Fok, Connect Newsletter, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

A full menu including a piping hot dinner, rice, salad and dessert were on offer, with all ingredients purchased with money donated by the teachers themselves.

Brainchild of the service, college Assistant Religious Education Coordinator Antoinette Nader said she was thrilled with the response to their debut service and now hopes to make it a more regular event.

She said their “customers” came from all walks of life including a dad of four children under 10 who was struggling with day-to-day life while his wife was in hospital being treated for cancer.

“Providing this service quite simply is a way of living the college ethos of Serviam which translates to ‘I Will Serve’,” she said.

“We encourage all of our students and staff to use their unique gifts and talents to help those in need through acts of Serviam, and by doing this experience first hand, the positive effects of giving of themselves selflessly in service to others and see the impact that makes.

“Knowing we are helping those in the community doing it a little tough, like the dad whose wife is battling cancer, really has given us a better understanding of giving while at the same time bringing us closer together as a Catholic community.

“We are so proud of what we have achieved and as COVID-19 restrictions ease we hope to grow the service and make it a more regular occurrence as well as offering a dine-in experience to help provide connections for those lonely and isolated in our community.”

One Meal relies entirely on volunteers to provide needy people with fresh, hot and nutritious homemade meals. One Meal also provides breakfast, lunch and snack packs to go, warm clothing, support and toiletry packs. One Meal assists its patrons to access accommodation and furniture when necessary. To help contact One Meal here.

This story originally appeared in The Catholic Weekly on 1 July 2020.

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