As a place of welcome and support for refugees and their families, Penola House, will be re-named CatholicCare Refugee Service, and will continue to provide education and support for refugees from its Wilson St location in Mayfield West.
Vice Chancellor of Pastoral Ministries for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Teresa Brierley, says the change in operation presents a great opportunity for refugees and other groups in the community.
“CatholicCare has a strong existing structure and more than 50 years experience in reaching out to the vulnerable in the community, as well as offering existing programs that may also benefit refugees,” Ms Brierley said.
“Moving the Penola House services to form part of CatholicCare allows the diocese to expand on our support of refugees and potentially offer services to others who are marginalised in our community, such as the homeless,” she said. “CatholicCare Refugee Service will promote the diocesan vision “to live the joy of the Gospel and to share it in the world”.
Ms Brierley says CatholicCare has extensive experience in volunteering and fundraising, which will also benefit the refugee support service.
“Its professional networks will allow CatholicCare Refugee Service to provide strong advocacy for refugee groups in the Hunter. Other services offered by CatholicCare, such as counselling and family services, make them a natural fit for the Hunter refugee community,” she said.
Penola House was originally established by the Sisters of St Joseph, Lochinvar. In 2013, when Penola House moved from Hamilton to its present location in Wilson Street, Mayfield West, governance and operation of the centre was transferred from the Sisters of St Joseph to the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. In particular, the diocese has taken up responsibility for statutory obligations, risk management, operations and reporting, budgeting, fundraising and the management of staff and volunteers who work at Penola House.
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is particularly grateful for the tireless contribution of two Sisters for their work with Penola House. Sr Betty Brown rsj was instrumental in establishing this dynamic outreach to refugees around the Hunter and for many years she has been assisted by Sr Diana Santleben OP.
The two Sisters will no longer be involved in the coordinating and administrative functions of CatholicCare Refugee Service. We thank them for their selfless work and generosity and we are sure their interest in the wellbeing of refugees will continue.