1st June 2022
Dear Friends of The Bridge Community,
Greetings from a chilly Bathurst. This Newsletter will focus on Nancy’s Place, the house Marie Bourke runs for vulnerable women, especially those coming out of prison. Marie returns to Melbourne at the end of the year, and I want to acknowledge her time here. I am going to miss her terribly; we share the faith and have been a good team. The only thing that makes it easier for me is that I know it is right for Marie to move and I know the Lord with provide for next year. After all, it is His work.
Please keep us in your prayers. Thank you for your friendship and support. Without that support we would not be able to go on.
Be assured of our prayers when we gather in the morning at mass,
Steve and Marie
Marie Bourke FMDM
Finishing up at Bathurst Women’s Centre
This time too has unexpectedly been a pulling back to listen closely, as my work at the Women’s Centre has stopped; leaving a big hole in my heart and my week. I’ve been forced to discern between clinical practice and freewheeling with, ‘what nuns do.’ It is so tempting for me to rescue the battered and bruised rather than patiently working out with them, the components of their addictive behaviours. This is a painful time for me.
At the same time, the two ladies here in the house are doing fine. We sit down for evening meals we’ve each taken turns to cook and pause and thank God for what’s happened during the day, and to remember their children and family members, that they be safe for the night. It is a time of regularly touching base and sometimes I’ll read out one of Michael Leunig’s humorous prayers. Not all the women who pass through Nancy’s Place stay the course with substance abuse and some have lost their children, but many have bravely managed.
Every morning Steve Sinn (SJ) comes and celebrates Mass. Usually it would be just Steve and I but yesterday Sandra came, one of our earlier residents as she needed to pray for herself and her daughter. We have a special regard for Sandra. This woman; larger than life, wild in a fight but generous to a fault; her daughter, her youngest is now in jail, and pregnant. “Oh God,” she prayed, “forgive me and look after my daughter!”
Sandra had to call the police; the hardest decision ever, as her daughter’s partner had hit pay day, taken drugs and was trashing the place. The third time. And Sandra feels bad, especially for her own past of using drugs. One of my ladies recently commented that it is when you see the pain you cause your own family members, that you wrest yourself from the drugs. And you don’t see this pain when you are caught up in your own little world.
And now I see K, heavily pregnant, has just swayed past my window from this morning’s hospital appointment, calling out to me; “Well, he’s coming!” She and B, our other resident were going to attend AA meeting in Lithgow this Saturday night, to encourage the dwindling numbers attending there, but I don’t think this is going to happen for K!
K is determined to keep this little one. That’s why she is here. Why she’s deliberately separated from her ex-partner and father of her other children; sadly, all in care. The condition for keeping this little one is to permanently sever this relationship, and all communication with him. He continues to use. To cut this man out of her life, whose she’s loved over so many years, is a tough call for her.
Now we are all on high alert to call the ambulance, any tick of the clock. At least I’m here in the house and my two chooks also in residence, are always pleased to talk things over with me!
Move to Melbourne 2023
At the end of last year, I felt so done in, I realised I needed to begin thinking of leaving Bathurst and moving to Melbourne. Running Nancy’s Place is not as pulverizing as when I first started; probably because I was so inexperienced; yet it’s still 24/7 and I feel it’s time to move on. I laughed to myself when the other week in Melbourne, Monica Weedon, our FMDM Leadership team member for Australia, gently asked me “Marie, do you think this is your last ‘move’?
It is, I assured her, and I so love it that leadership allows me the luxury of looking around myself to work out where I can live and how I shall live in Melbourne. I shall miss Bathurst and Steve but it’s exciting too!
NB “Sandra” is not her real name.
SUPPORT THE BRIDGE COMMUNITY
I am so grateful for the support you have given to the work of the community. I think you know that we rely totally on that support. Your support is for me such an encouragement and affirmation of our friendship. It is our work, not mine. In the end, it is His work.
This year I have a special project, to build a granny flat at the back of the house where I live with 4 others. It will provide for a couple and their 4-year-old and be available, into the future, for other families in need of transition housing.
Should you like to support us, here are the Bank details of The Bridge Community Bathurst ABN 6885 905 4401. All donations are tax deductible.
Bank Account: The Bridge Community Bathurst INC Account #: 480 994 BSB: 032 814
Steve joins with his housemates ‘at home’ in Bathurst