First Friday Food and Fellowship

In the true spirit of Catholic outreach and joining with community members through parish hospitality, a small group of parishioners from the Catholic Parish of Inner Newcastle held a meeting to discuss the possibility of supporting a First Friday soup kitchen.

With an overwhelming vote of approval from Fr Andrew and plenty of enthusiasm from participants, it was decided to try utilising the CatholicCare community van to create a real presence in the area.

Recipes for popular soups were circulated and those with a slow cooker were added to the roster for the inaugural event last Friday.

Parish secretary Margaret whipped up a flyer and a number of volunteers conducted a letterbox drop around the estates that border St Joseph’s Merewether.

The smells wafting from the kitchen as the soup warmed was an attraction on its own. The ever reliable pumpkin; minestrone topped with shaved parmesan cheese and carrot and lentil soup (for the health-conscious) were bubbling away in the slow cooker.

The starting time of 11am coincided with the finishing time of the 10.15am parish Mass. Whilst mission and outreach is one of the diocese’s Five Foundations, ‘in reach’ is also an important concept, particularly to the elderly and often lonely members of our parish communities.

When the time arrived they were lined up for tasty treats and also to enjoy each other’s company. A spare room in the parish office hosted the event as it was very cold (in fact freezing) outside. The biggest decision was which soup to try – ‘ok, you can come back for seconds’ we assured them!

About 25 guests enjoyed the hospitality over the hour with the hot bread rolls also a winner. It was great to hear the constant conversation emanating from the room and whatever the number present, the mission was a success.

The van has been booked for each first Friday, the soup recipes have been googled and the schools, St Joseph’s Primary, Merewether and Holy Family Primary, Merewether Beach, are keen to lend their support.

This is a great initiative. Imagine if other parishes took up the initiative on the remaining Fridays of the month! Together, let’s help those in need → of soup, of community connection, or both!

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Helene O'Neill Image
Helene O'Neill

Helene O'Neill is the Parish-Family Liaison Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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