DARA – Year in Review

In Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) he said: “At the very heart of the Gospel is life in community and engagement with others. The content of the first proclamation has an immediate moral implication centred on charity.” As I reflect on the year in review for the Development and Relief Agency, I am confident we have responded to Pope Francis’s call to be focused on charity and engaged with our local community in a manner that has had a positive impact for those in need.

This year, DARA focused on two areas of need: one, to feed the homeless, and the other to support refugee and asylum seekers as they navigate the complexities of establishing a new home in our Diocese while working through the trauma and challenges of fleeing their country of origin.

This year we have seen our homeless food programs continue to grow with new services opening at Woodberry and in partnership with the Toronto Parish, as well as maintaining our services at Maitland, Islington, Nelson Bay and Raymond Terrace. Our collaboration with Catholic schools across the Diocese has continued, with students and staff volunteering their time at various locations and cooking delicious meals for our participants.

Our Refugee Hub has had one its busiest years to date with staff and volunteers providing thousands of hours of support through our men’s program, conversational English classes, women’s support network, and the beach safety program. A special mention of thanks goes out to the staff from St Francis Xavier’s College for their tireless and ongoing support teaching the English lessons each week. 

Both of these programs rely heavily on the support of our wonderful volunteers and donors. The generosity of spirit of our volunteers and donors cannot be understated. Without them, the good works of DARA would not be possible. On behalf of the Diocese, I thank you for your amazing support and I look forward to your active engagement in the years ahead.

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Gary Christensen

Gary Christensen is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Please visit catholiccare.org.au.