Gethsemane works with appropriate State and Community agencies, in a form of practical partnership, when issues arise in regard to mental wellbeing.

Beginnings

Myree Harris rsj has been the house leader and coordinator at Gethsemane Community Inc since its beginning. In 1990 she took over what had been a St Francis House at Stanmore. The St Francis House, developed by Pauline Fitz-Walter sgs had provided for a transient population whereas Gethsemane developed into a model that provided for the security and stability of a home for people who had not had that experience for a long time. . Initially, there was a large and itinerant group of men and women living there. After six months, the group was evicted, since there was no lease in place. A much better house was found for rent on Enmore Road Marrickville and the community, now smaller and more stable, lived there for nine and a half years

In providing a home, Myree a contemporary Josephite sister, was responding to this century’s problem in a way similar to that adopted by St Mary MacKillop, the first Josephite. In 1880, Mary MacKillop opened a house in the Rocks area of Sydney, for homeless women and their children. Mary MacKillop called that first house a Providence because the Sisters had nothing and depended on God to provide through the generosity of others The Sisters, in the early days, were often seen on the street begging for food or money to care for their residents. Sr Myree has followed this Josephite tradition calling on all her contacts and groups and parishes to whom she speaks to support Gethsemane today. There have been times when the exact amount due for a bill came in as a donation just to remind us of the mystery of God’s Providence which expects us to do all we can and then trust.

The problem for homeless people with mental illness is not one which can be solved simply by a building program. They need more than a place, more than a house. Many of the people without housing are vulnerable, and their situation intrinsically unstable. Such people are open to exploitation. Many of them lack the skills necessary to take advantage of housing opportunities.. Once securely housed, and with adequate support, they can get a case manager from a mental health team, be stabilized on the best medication and start to develop living skills. If necessary, their finances can be protected by the Public Trustee and Guardian. In very many cases, there is no family contact. They can start to have a life as we know it. They may work at what used to be called sheltered workshops, can develop hobbies and enjoy leisure activities. They become part of the community and make friends.

Gethsemane Community lived in rented terraces in Stanmore and Marrickville until 1998 when an application for disability funding from the Dept. of Housing was successful and the community moved to Petersham.

 
advert