8 November 2016
Sometimes the simplest of emails give a surprising glimpse into how we can be interconnected through place and time and how we can learn more of our world. Through these two following emails we learn of initiatives of the Sisters of Mercy in the care and support of refugees, we recognize the concern of a community that they be welcoming to refugees and we are reminded of the arrival of migrants to our country after the Second World War.
These emails speak of STARTTS, which is the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors. It is a specialist, non-profit organisation that for more than 25 years has provided culturally appropriate and cutting edge psychological treatment and support to help people heal the scars of torture and refugee trauma and rebuild their lives in Australia.
STARTTS helps people and communities from refugee backgrounds, including asylum seekers, who were forced to leave their country due to persecution in the context of political conflict, organised violence and human rights violations. STARTTS also supports and resources service providers, educational institutions and volunteer groups to work more effectively with refugees.
The emails also mention the Bathurst Refugee Support Group and their welcome to refugees over a number of years. Lastly, they speak of the Bathurst Migrant Camp.
Pat Linnane rsm, a founding member of the Bathurst Refugee Support Group and a longtime member of the community of Sisters of Mercy in Bathurst sent the following emails in to this issue of ‘just Mercy’. A lovely story to tell.
I read that you were asking for news to put in Just Mercy. I would love to share with readers this wonderful story enabled by the Sisters of Mercy in Bathurst some years ago. The Sisters opened up their former central convent ‘St Joseph’s Mount’ as a house of welcome to members of the STARTTS community when they bought large numbers of refugees from many countries for short term respite/recreation/training. This practice then continued when the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea assisted the Bathurst Refugee Support Group (BRSG) with renovation and lease of a house which gave the group a new and restored House of Welcome. Sr Bernie Evens generously carries on this connection between STARTTS & Bathurst Refugee Support Group today. Gary Cachia is a staff member of STARTTS and has maintained contact with me since their first visit. In a recent visit, Gary recalled many happy memories of the association with the Sisters of Mercy and members of BRSG. He bought his mother to meet me and this was one of those sacred moments God gives each one of us and one I would like to share. Feel free to edit anyway you wish.
Sister Pat’s email was prompted by one from Gary Cachia. Gary is in his mid-forties, a child of post-World War Two migrants. Gary has worked as a youth worker and now with STARTTS, he works with newly arrived refugees and migrants who have experienced war and violence. Gary has been an advocate for multiculturalism and acceptance of diversity and is presently a Board member of Moving Forward Together Association.
Having experienced times in Bathurst with refugees, Gary again visited with Sister Pat recently, along with his mother and this email followed.
Dear Sister Pat
It was lovely to see you today. It was a lovely gathering that could never have been organised even if we tried. I have attached the pictures we took and included the Bathurst Migrant camp story of my mother.
I first found out that my mother was in Bathurst Migrant Camp after returning home from one of our times in Bathurst (the time of the Chook Chapel Opening!) I was telling my parents of surviving staying in a Convent and she said she that she had stayed in Bathurst as a child.
When I brought my mother to Bathurst to meet you the first time, she remembered local kids playing with her and her family. On this trip I took her to see the Migrant Camp.
We discovered a picture that looked like my younger sister and I asked my mother if it was her.
She looked and recognised two of her sisters in the photo and then herself. In a further telling of the story, I also enjoyed finding out that there is a possibility that one of my uncles and nephews may have been named after you.
Thank you Sister Pat, for the emergence of this story, it is one of many joyful experiences you have provided to myself.
Messages to: Pat Linnane rsm