by Julie Macken

On the 21st of April there was a meeting of about 40 people in the parish hall of St Columba’s Leichardt and more attending through zoom. We were there to discuss an idea that arose out of the Pope’s call to celebrate St Joseph – yes, the worker – but also the refugee. We met inspired by the words spoken by Pope Francis at the enormous refugee camp of Lampedusa in Greece.

“We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping, of “suffering with”: the globalisation of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the cry, the plea, the great lament: “Rachel weeping for her children . . . because they are no more.”

The pain of living as a refugee, unwanted, unneeded, unclaimed and adrift in a world is hard for most of us to imagine. It is a place described by America psychoanalysts, Lisa C. Beritzhoff as a place: “…For exiles held in detention, the self and its core are in urgent need of protection and recognition, as they struggle to exist in what I refer to as The Meantime. The Meantime is when migratory mourning stretches to infinity, resulting in extreme dissociation, or depersonalization, that becomes a collective way of life that destroys reality and the self. In order for the self and reality to survive The Meantime, relationships with “need mediating subjects,” whom I call The Responsibles, must be created.”

We have heard that cry and rise to claim the title of the Responsibles over the next 150 days.

The 150 days will take us through a time of lamentation and truth-telling that began on May 1st at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney. During that ceremony a call was sent out to stand in solidarity with those who weep. This is a call for all of us to reflect on and answer in the peace of our own hearts, the communities in which we live and the electorates that determine who we elect to represent our values and our lives at State and Federal level.


We invite all students and young volunteers to rise

Will you commit to action in these days?


We invite all members of parishes and local communities to rise

Will you commit to action in these days?


We invite all members of refugee organisations to rise

Will you commit to action in these days?


We invite all who are committed to justice for refugees to rise

Will you commit to action in these days?



Joseph took care of Jesus against those who wanted to kill him and protected him during their escape to Egypt.   God of Compassion, may we help to protect those who are vulnerable

For our brothers and sisters whose homes are torched, whose children are scattered, who must turn down their eyes and fence their mouths, we pray:  God of compassion, may we stand with them    

For those who do stand in solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees, that their work will be recognised and supported:   God of compassion, may they be supported

For Church Leaders, that they will show leadership in speaking out for justice and the rights of those seeking asylum:  God of compassion, may they speak

For political leaders, that the rights and dignity of all people will be uppermost in their considerations of policy.  God of compassion, may they show justice

For all of us, that our hearts may be open, our hands ready, and our words welcoming to those who have lost so much and need to start again.  God of compassion, may we strengthen our resolve.

Here at the JPO we commit to keep everyone up to date with events as the roll out over the next 150 days and hope that we can all meet together on the 26th of September to conclude with a national liturgy of lamentation for all those who have come to us seeking protection.