Catholic Mission will invite pilgrims to donate to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal instead of its international mission projects during the four-month tour of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Sts Louis and Zelie Martin.
The mission organisation announced yesterday it will partner with the St Vincent de Paul Society during the pilgrimage of the relics, which starts on January 22.
With parts of Australia affected by drought and bushfire, Catholic Mission National Director Fr Brian Lucas said the unique circumstances call for contingency.
“We recognise that it is difficult to focus on the need abroad when an unprecedented crisis of such scale is happening here in Australia,” Fr Lucas said.
“We have many supporters in badly affected dioceses across Australia and it is incumbent on us to offer a missionary response and to enable those who want to prioritise their friends, families and fellow Australians affected by these devastating bushfires to do so.”
David Harrison, Catholic Mission’s Diocesan Director in Wollongong, a diocese heavily affected by the crisis, said the local and international response has been heartening.
“Communities right down the South Coast are really doing it really tough at the moment, but it’s inspiring how so many – from local parishes to celebrities – have pulled together to support those who have lost everything.”
Funeral provider InvoCare and its affiliated brands, who are joining with Catholic Mission to bring the relics to 17 Australian dioceses, have expressed full support of the move to invite Vinnies to collect donations.
Meanwhile, the extraordinary conditions across the country have led Catholic Mission to adjust its annual Seminarian Appeal, which launches in February, with an effort being made to withhold the mailed appeal from areas affected by bushfire and/or drought.
The organisation confirmed the contingency plans would not disrupt the distribution of critical funds to projects it supports throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
“While we do acknowledge the gravity of the local situation, we must also respect our mission and remain committed to communities in great need around the world,” said Fr Lucas. “Our annual Seminarian Appeal, which benefits future Church leaders in developing countries, will still raise and distribute funds for that purpose.’
Catholic Mission to partner with Vinnies Bushfire Appeal (Catholic Mission)