WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Compassion changes

The Sisters of Compassion are looking for a lay person to manage the Compassion Centre with the imminent departure from the position of Sr Margaret Mary.

The Board is looking for a lay person to fill this position which will give the four or so Sisters still at the Centre more freedom to work at the ‘coal face’, interacting with, advocating for and otherwise assisting people in need.

Sr Margaret Mary has been at the Centre for 15 years, the last eight as manager. She believes that there comes a time when management needs to change to allow fresh energy and perception to lead an organisation forward. She says change is vital for making you think differently, but, she says, not too much will change at the centre.

In her time at the helm, she has realised the significance of providing a structure in which people can donate their time and service.

‘We see a lot of the ‘widow’s mite’ [Mk 12:41−44] here—people who want to give from the very little they have—perhaps some vegetables from the garden.’

Then there are the donors, both individuals and organisations contributing food and money regularly to the running of the Soup Kitchen. Donors also support our various other services.

Volunteers have always been important to the Compassion Centre’s operation. They help Sisters and staff in a variety of ways which contribute to the mission. Sr Margaret Mary says it has been wonderful to have so many people coming into the centre to give their time and be with those who come as guests to the Soup Kitchen.

There are a number who have been with the Soup Kitchen for up to 40 years, taking their turn on a roster. Others—more than half are young people, perhaps students—come for a year or two because they want to do something for someone else.

There are what they call ‘Guardian Angels’—Sisters and experienced volunteers who mentor new volunteers to maintain a smooth operation.

A recent mailout to volunteers put the number who currently donate their services to the centre at 220 and Sr Margaret Mary says the young volunteers give the lie to a media representation of young people as thoughtless, careless and self-focused boy-racer types.

‘They are wonderful young people that we love having around.’

Many of them come from different faith backgrounds, some from evangelical churches like Elim, others from other Christian denominations, or even eastern religions, still others have no organised religion in their background but just want to do something for someone else.

In looking for a manager, the Board and Sisters will be seeking someone who can commit to the charism of the Order.

‘To have someone who has an appreciation of our mission is absolutely pivotal. I don’t think you could do the job without this passion. The Board would definitely not bring anyone onto the management who would undermine the mission.

‘We pray together. People have to be comfortable with that. Also knowing what sort of experience we want people to have when they interact with us. They have to be committed to honouring the sacred dignity of the individuals who come here—to be compassionate to everyone who comes to the door, or who is served in the outreach from the Centre.

The Sisters pray at various times of the day in the chapel, which is open to anyone to drop in between 9 am and 4.30pm on weekdays. Compassion Centre has Mass daily on weekdays at 12 noon for anyone who is in the area.