The Southern Cross : December 2012
Page 14 Decembe 2012r www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross | news By Nicholas Kerr The recent wave of African migrants is bringing "new blood to the Australian Church", Bishop Santo Loku Pio said in Adelaide. Bishop Santo, Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, South Sudan, together with Mgr Roko Taban the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Malakal and Fr Samuel Akoch the Parish Priest of Bentiu were visiting African-Australians from South Sudan. "This is a solidarity visit," Bishop Santo said. "Coming to Australia has given us an opportunity, after being invited by the Australian Bishops Conference's Office for Migrants and Refugees, to encourage the young migrant community in Australia. "We've come especially to encourage them in their faith and their responsibility, to really resettle as Christians and as Catholics and to carry out their duties and responsibilities." Bishop Santo said he was particularly happy to see young Africans in lay ministry in the Australian Church. "They're getting involved," he said. "Some are now commissioned catechists here and in other dioceses and many professionals are assisting them to get them to join into the church life in Australia, which is so different from the life back in South Sudan. "They're getting trained. They're getting the capacities to fit into the church and to give the support that they need in their communities. "Also we have a permanent deacon ordained already in Melbourne from this migrant community." Deacon George Piech Meat was ordained for the Melbourne Archdiocese on October 27. "We realise that here there are many people who came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and so on," Bishop Santo said. "They're forming up a family, a family of the African community. "We're encouraging them to carry out their leadership responsibility, to be good Catholics and carry out their duties." Bishop Santo said some people suffered from culture shock. "I did go to different prisons to see our African migrant young ones in prison because of crimes they got themselves into, like drugs and drinking and over-speeding and making accidents," he said. "Growing up in such a difficult situation and coming to a country where they could get a better life -- and dropping back into a culture shock where there is no family control of the youth and the young people -- that's very, very saddening. "And to see mothers regretting having come to a culture which is not theirs, seeing their daughters walking away from their families -- these are the few things I gather. But the majority are faring well." Deacon Nicholas Kerr is pastoral coordinator assisting the African Catholic Community. For Butch and Denise Evans, Christmas lunch at the Hutt Street Centre is so much more than just a meal. While the couple have returned for the breakfast and two-course meal five years in a row, they say the genuine goodwill of the inner city meal centre and its volunteers make what would otherwise be a lonely day much more pleasant. They have lived on and off the streets for years. "This is the best place for me and Denise to come to on Christmas Day; it's the next best thing to having a family around you," said Butch. Butch is estranged from his children and surviving relatives in New South Wales, while Denise has had no contact with her five brothers for decades. Denise has been a client of the centre since arriving in Adelaide from Sydney in 1968. She was 16 years old. "It's been good to me," she says of Hutt Street. "It's changed my life." With the help of Hutt Street, Butch and Denise have been able to secure permanent accommodation and are hoping 2013 is the year they can turn things around. "This is a tough period for many of our clients as they don't have family and many other social networks and Hutt Street Centre becomes their family and place of welcome," said Hutt Street Centre chief executive officer Ian Cox. During the festive season, the centre is urging people to consider giving a donation to Hutt Street Centre as part of a Christmas gift to friends and relatives, or as Kris Kringle gifts, to help keep the centre running. To donate to the Hutt Street Centre Christmas Appeal go to www.huttstcentre.org.au, phone 8418 2500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hutt St heart CHRISTMAS TABLE: Hutt Street Centre clients Butch and Denise Evans will be among 150 men and women at risk of homelessness celebrating Christmas together with food and gifts. African solidarity SCHOOL VISIT: The delegation visited Nazareth Catholic Community where they were entertained by the African Student Choir and met with the African Women's Group and other members of the community. Sr Theresa Swiggs is pictured with, from left, Fr Mayen, Bishop Pio and Mgr Mousa at the community's Findon campus.