Green Leaves – Resurrection Hope
Even while the terrible fires were still burning and great columns of ash and smoke were billowing into the sky, help was being offered from far away in Vermont USA. It’s amazing how human hearts are open by tragedy and grief.
It’s as if it was Good Friday all over again. The loss and the devastation was conveyed across the world.
So our Family Group Coordinator, Tammy White, from the First Congregational Church in Manchester, Vermont, USA, was contacted by their church “Missions Board”. Their call was not a request, but an offer to help Victorian families in need of assistance after the tragic bush fires. The offer was for funding or materials, or blankets – an offer to help where there is a need.
Tammy went into immediate email communication wit hour International office at Grace Cottage with this kind offer. Our immediate response via our amazing network of Australian Family Group connections was to put this offer to our PFGM Directors for Victoria/Tasmania, Maree & Bernard Metcalf.
This is a beautiful example of how the wheels of compassion and kindness turn, even half way across the world. The following immediate reply came from Maree and Bernard:
Many thanks for your message, and your generous offer of support. The response from Family Groups people in many places has been wonderful to experience for those of us who live near these fires. We have been very fortunate in one way, as only one of our 60 parishes in Victoria was directly affected.
They lost one of their churches (Kinglake) but have managed to get their services up and running again. But quite a few people in the area lost homes or even their lives, though no parishioners died there. Roads into that Kinglake community were only opened to the public again during the past week and people there are very sensitive about visitors coming in, even with the best of intentions. When there is so much destruction, loss of life and pain, it is shared by the community and affects everyone deeply.
We, and others in our local Family Group Team, have spoken to the parish Coordinators in the 6 parishes either impacted by, or on the edge of the fires, and they all spoke of the wonderful efforts at all levels – community, parish, diocese, State and National Governments – that are under way.
We are not equipped for, nor attempting to set up, specific Family Group support activities but rather encouraging people to be involved at one or more of these levels. And they are – doing everything from carting hay to providing food, money and homes. We know that this is happening all over, as the community support has been wonderful to be part of.
I have sent you a link to a newsletter which gives you a picture of the effort going on, at least in the three Catholic Dioceses affected by the fires. This little window on the local scene, however, will give you an idea of what is happening. http://www.sale.catholic.org.au/
Again, many thanks for your support. As Easter approaches for us all, I think the best thing would be to support us with your prayers. The fresh green leaves on some of our trees and bushes are coming through already. Green leaves are the Easter symbol Down Under of New Life. Even the mighty fires, the ash and the blackness are transformed by unconquered Life. So it is in our lives this Easter..
Our best wishes and many thanks. May our paths cross one day soon.
Maree & Bernard Metcalfe
Family Group Directors, Victoria and Tasmania