Our Lady of the Way Parish Emu Plains

Catholic Church opens new African community centre in Blacktown


All Saints of Africa Centre News Story
Photography: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, opened and blessed the All Saints of Africa Centre at St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish on Sunday 3 March.

The Centre will provide pastoral, welfare and educational services for people of African background, and allow African-Australians to help each other.

In his Homily, Bishop Anthony said the inspiration for the Centre was the needs expressed by African migrants and refugees and those who work closely with them.

“Here we hope to strengthen families, and young people especially, in their sense of identity, spirituality and personal wellbeing so they can fully participate in the Australian Church and community,” Bishop Anthony said.

Strengthening families and personal wellbeing

All Saints of Africa Centre News Story
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
The All Saints of Africa Centre will provide holistic programs and services within an atmosphere of pastoral care, to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the African community (especially the youth) within Western Sydney by strengthening families and their personal wellbeing in order to participate, integrate and thrive within the Australian community.

The Centre plans to offer a range of services including:

  • A gathering place for community events including pastoral and liturgical events.
  • One parenting group per school term co-facilitated by CatholicCare staff.
  • Opportunities for collaboration with other Blacktown-based support services seeking to provide “as needed” services to the African community, e.g. facilitation of a playgroup, a youth group, a domestic violence support group, a support group around settlement issues, a financial management group, a support group for families affected by drug and alcohol, etc. These groups may be held after hours.
  • Home visiting and Centre-based family support /case management.
  • “Drop-in” service to provide one-off support for referral, assistance with forms.
  • Development of youth services and groups that may include a Youth Leadership Program, a Youth Peer Support Program, recreational activities and homework centre.
  • Development of a volunteer program which may include English conversation classes, adult education, computer skills, CV writing and employment programs.
  • Community festivities across the year, e.g. Migrant and Refugee Sunday, Refugee Week, International Women’s Day.
The Centre has been established through the partnership of CatholicCare Parramatta, the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish and Catholic Education Parramatta. The NSW Government contributed funding towards the cost of establishing the Centre. The African community will also fundraise to help. Work to establish the Centre at St Patrick’s Parish Blacktown commenced in July last year. Two unused demountable buildings from the school have been relocated to a small house in front of the parish to provide both office and meeting spaces.

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