Josephite Community Aid

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Josephite Community Aid (also JCA or Jcaid) is a charity organisation based in Sydney, Australia, which, through the work of young volunteers, provides assistance to newly arrived refugee migrants, people facing poverty, mental disability, underprivilege and other special needs. JCA was founded in 1986 and relies on donations and the work of volunteers.

History and community work[edit]

JCA (originally named "VCA" from Vincentian Community Aid) invites young people to serve the poor and marginalised.[1][2] It was founded by Sister Maria Sullivan RSJ, who approached friends in 1986 with ideas for forming a group to help the poor and underprivileged with the assistance of young volunteers.[3] According to JCA's website:[4]

JCA was founded in 1986 as a place where young people could make a practical commitment to the poor but also as a way for them to receive wonderful gifts from people with few worldly goods but great treasures of culture and generosity. Country born Maria Sullivan, a Josephite sister, had come to the city to do youth work and there encountered many poor families and people from the boarding houses.

With the Lebanese war in full swing, Maria visited a family of refugees, living in shocking conditions, with no English, no money, few blankets and with rain coming in through their roof. Shaken by this experience of extreme poverty so close to home, Maria sought out like-minded friends and enthusiastic young people to put faith into action and establish JCA.

— "Sewing the Seed", History of JCA

The group attracted a wide range of benefactors and young volunteers and found a particular mission working among the waves of refugee intakes reaching Australia, from war zones such as Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Sudan.[5] With the support of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Australian order of nuns founded by Saint Mary MacKillop, the group committed itself to aiding people who are poor and underprivileged through utilizing the talents and dedication of young people.[6]

Through income raised by donations, members provide assistance with an emphasis on companionship: home visits and weekend excursions; practical assistance, such as language tuition and provision of furniture; and by connecting communities and offering friendship.[7] Although assistance is often provided by part-time workers, many youth volunteers take time out from their careers and often live in-house with JCA.[8] JCA invite young people between the ages of 18 – 35 to give up a year and "work in solidarity with those living in poverty in the western suburbs of Sydney".[9][10] The group also hosts community events such as the JCA Christmas Hamper Day, open to volunteers drawn from across Sydney, and on which hundreds of donated Christmas packages are delivered to refugee families living in the city.[11]

Though founded with the support of Catholic sisters, JCA is non-denominational in its membership and functions and has worked extensively with Sydney's migrant communities of all faiths - particularly through providing assistance to refugees in adjusting to resettlement in Australia.[12] In recent years, JCA has worked extensively with Sydney's growing Sudanese refugee community.

Spirituality[edit]

While JCA is essentially staffed by lay-people and is inter-religious in the donors, supporters and volunteers its attracts as well as the assistance it renders, the spirituality of St Mary MacKillop is a major influence on JCA. MacKillop founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic religious order, in the 19th Century to focus on education and assistance for the poor.

As its Gospel, JCA cites Jesus' identification with the poor and suffering at Matthew 25:35-46:[13]

Membership[edit]

JCA in part consists of people living together in community, some in a full-time capacity, others with full-time jobs elsewhere who work part-time with the charity. Other volunteers live in their own homes and participate in the work of JCA.[14]

Funding is provided by a network of donors and fundraising events.

Recognition[edit]

Representatives of Josephite Community Aid were invited to participate in the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop in Rome in 2010, with co-ordinator Adrian Thompson representing Australia in the procession of gifts.[15]

JCA featured in the documentary Mary MacKillop: Soul of the Sunburnt Country, produced by Albert Street Productions and Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.[16][17]

External links[edit]

References[edit]