Catholic school Principals to sleep on the street

This Thursday evening, two Catholic primary school principals from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will sleep on the streets of Newcastle in an effort to raise money and bring attention to the fact that on any given night, more than 100,000 people across Australia experience homelessness*.

St James’, Muswellbrook, principal, Niamh Marzol, and St Joseph’s, East Maitland, principal, Anthony Weir, are participating in the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout alongside 54 business leaders from across the region.

Every night, thousands of Australians seek shelter in crisis accommodation facilities run by community organisations like the St Vincent de Paul Society.

This is the third year Ms Marzol will participate in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout  who says she likes to lead by example.

“It is important to me to be able to live my faith in real terms,” Ms Marzol said. “I am a person of action not of words and as uncomfortable as it is it is, nothing compares with the discomfort and pain felt by one in every 113 displaced and homeless across the world.

“I can’t make a difference everywhere but if we can alleviate, in even a small way, the suffering of those close to our place of work and home, then that is a good start… they in turn can assist others and so forth.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society is an amazing Catholic outreach and one that I am happy to support in any way I can.”

Mr Weir said his experience as a St Vincent de Paul volunteer has opened his eyes to the complex issues surrounding those who do not have the luxury of a roof over their heads.

“I have met people who live in caravans, who “couch surf” and those who live out of their cars,” he said. “There are more complex issues that need to be addressed and through this experience, I am hoping to broaden my own awareness and to raise awareness of the issue in my community.

“I am very appreciative of the financial support which is going to the St Vincent de Paul Society and pray that it makes a difference to the lives of those around me.”

So far, the group of Hunter business people has collectively raised more than $60,000 but they are still seeking donations.

To support Niamh or Anthony, please donate here:

To learn more about homelessness and the CEO sleepout, download a fact sheet.

* ref - Australian Bureau of Statistics

Image: Last year, Director of Catholic Schools, Ray Collins, braved the chill of a winter’s night armed only with their clothes, a sleeping bag and a thin layer of cardboard.

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Emma Blackford Image
Emma Blackford

Emma Blackford worked for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle from 2009-2017. During this time, Emma held the positions of Communications Manager for the Catholic Schools Office, Communications Manager for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and Marketing and Communications Manager for CatholicCare Hunter-Manning.