Thanksgiving celebration for 40 years of Jesuit Social Services

Brent plays didgeridoo at Jesuit Social Services' 40 years Mass

Jesuit Social Services kicked off its 40 year celebrations last week with an anniversary Mass at St Ignatius Church, Richmond. Around 100 people attended the Mass, including former Jesuit Provincials, Patrick O’Sullivan SJ who authorised the founding of Jesuit Social Services, Bill Uren SJ and 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, Brian McCoy, and concelebrated by Jesuit Social Services’ Dave Ryan SJ and Andy Hamilton SJ, along with Robin Koning SJ. In his Homily, Brian 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.

Brian 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’. Brian’s Homily is available in full on the Australian Jesuits website.

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 our 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). We also used soil from our office in Brunswick, a neighbourhood we’ve worked from since the 1980s, to represent our origins. 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 our Richmond office, where Aunty Pam Pedersen welcomed us to Country and Patricia Faulkner, Board Chair, spoke about Jesuit Social Services’ milestone year. We thank everyone who shared in this happy celebration.

Symbols placed on the altar to represent Jesuit Social Services' values   IMG_2836   IMG_2890  Concelebrants at Jesuit Social Services' thanksgiving Mass

Image credits: Michael McVeigh, Andrew Yule