Sr Kerry Barrass: Support for the farmers at Warren, NSWPrint
Twenty seven years ago, when I was working at Trinity College, Auburn, we hadn’t had rain for ages. In the country areas, the situation was desperate.
So I decided – after speaking to the Principal – that I would do something about this problem.
The drought was really bad, so I went to the head office of St Vincent de Paul at Lewisham to discuss which areas were the worst hit and suffering. I was told Wilcannia and Forbes, so they suggested Warren.
I went back to the Principal and told him and he said I could work with Years 10 and 11. Putting our heads together, the students and I decided to put on a dinner at the Catholic Club at Lidcombe for farmers in Warren area.
And that is what we did… we met with the social team from the club and organised the dinner. We invited the president of the Warren St Vincent de Paul and a lot of other people to the dinner. It was a great success and $25,000 was raised. I have been supporting Warren’s farmers ever since.
I have been moved around in my ministry, but wherever I have lived I have always had a support team behind me helping to send money to Warren’s farmers when we make money.
Sadly, I am not the best at making money, you only have to ask “My Ladies.” They won’t let me serve on the trading table as I put the prices right down!
I have a lot of support from the Sisters who give me some goodies – these are great for raffles and lucky door prizes. Also, each year I go for a trip to Warren to catch up will all my friends. People give to me when they know that I am helping the farmers. So many of these lovely people down here have been on the land and they know too well “the downs” that they can have.
I am so lucky to be able to go to Warren; I have made a lot of beautiful friends. The town of Warren hasn’t got much, a lot of the shops are boarded up, no coffee shops, only a pub, but when I go there we get together for morning teas and the farmers come to town. The stories they tell are good fun. We have a lot of laughs. The Vinnies shop is where we meet and have our morning tea.
They have a new parish priest now and he is trying to bring the people together but he is very busy as he has three parishes together, so he is travelling by car for miles and miles… no easy job.
When I see what we have here in Shellharbour, I think “how lucky am I?” We have all the committees in the parish, prayer groups, social group, V.S.O.P. valuing and supporting older people, and a lot more. We have two priests, Mass everyday, three Masses on the weekend, retreat days, social cuppas.
I feel that by going to Warren every year I can support these beautiful people in their lives, because it is tough for them. I feel it is a privilege for me that they accept and love me. I love the bush, I am a bushie – once a bushie, always a bushie!
Going to Warren is a passion of mine, given that I am sucha bushie. But while I just love going back to the bush, I also love Shellharbour — the beach, the beauty, the mountains. I have the best of both worlds, wouldn’t you say?
While I am able to drive and am healthy, I will travel to Warren to take goodies up in my car and support these beautiful people who are doing it tough.
I will go in the Spring and Autumn when it isn’t too hot, because when it is hot, it is really hot, and I really hate the heat.
What struck me on my most recent trip was the courage, faith, and determination of the farmers and their families to carry on no matter what.
I had the best time because at the morning teas. The stories told were wonderful, especially those told with a twang in their tone. I thank God that I can go each year, because this is just a side thing that I do.
My Ministry is a Pastoral Associate in the Parish of All Saints, Shellharbour City. This is what I love doing; I love working down here in Shellharbour. I have two great priests to work with, Bryan Jones and Steve Varney.
Actually, it doesn’t feel like work. I feel as though I am on holiday all the time, what a life I have. I am really blessed! Thanks God, thanks for listening.