Celebrating A Year of Courage,
Commitment and Mission
St Bart's: Celebrating A Year of Courage, Commitment and Mission
by The Revd Ross Jones | Wellbeing Chaplaincy Service, St Bart's
Coming to the end of her term as Australian of the Year, Grace Tame has shared how challenging and re-traumatising it has been for her to be continually retelling the sexual abuse that she suffered at the age of 15. And yet, her courage and commitment are evident when she says: ‘If I did not stand up and speak truth to power, which is what I have done, I would be a hypocrite,’ and ‘My job is to hear and stand with the oppressed’.
This message resonates with our joyous Christmas celebration of God, who is with us. That the divine mission of the Son is clearly proclaimed as that of ‘bringing good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free’.
St Bart’s is the Diocesan Agency whose mission is to provide and support people who have experienced the trauma of homelessness to secure affordable accommodation. Here is caring love in action through practical assistance that is designed to lead to long-term independence.
This is no easy task, as people who have experienced trauma and loss are often in a defensive mode of survival as they understand it. This means they can make decisions that we struggle to understand, and it is often the reason for self-medication through alcohol or drugs. They are simply trying to cope as best they know how. Grace has also shared of her struggles with this, as well as being in abusive relationships, due to lack of boundaries.
It takes dedicated, caring, and trained staff in trauma-informed practice to be by the side of these people who are seeking to have what they believe to be meaningful, normal lives. This specialised ministry of St Bart’s to those who have experienced the trauma of homelessness is only possible because our organisation is part of this marvellous network that we call the Church, or the Body of Christ. It is because of the support of the Diocese of Perth, Anglican schools, and our many dedicated parishes.
This enabling support has been demonstrated recently in the generous response to the Christmas Hamper Appeal. This is more than the wonderful practical items donated including toys for children - it is an enactment of compassionate caring and understanding. This breaks through the sense of blindness and isolation in suffering that trauma brings to people. This enables the staff to express to the consumers that they are not alone and marginalised and forgotten in society, for we as the church do care and seek to assist wherever we can.
This Messenger marks my last, as my time as the Chaplain of St Bart’s comes to an end on 24 December. It has been an honour to serve the consumers that have come through the doors of St Bart’s, and I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to our Anglican family for your wonderful support of the mission of the organisation over the years.
From everyone at St Bart’s, may you all have a blessed and enriched festive season of Emmanuel. God is with us.
St Swithun’s Anglican Church handmade quilt donation - one of the many Anglican supports St Bart’s has been privileged to receive this year.