Jubilee Year of Mercy makes a lasting impact at Harvey Parish
Harvey Parish community dinners are held on Monday evenings. Photo: Fr Bernard Lanarolle.
By Theresia Titus
After holding a few soup kitchen events during the Year of Mercy, Harvey Parish in the Diocese of Bunbury continues its tradition by holding Harvey Community Dinner every Monday evening.
Started in January 2017, the weekly dinner has been the occasion that brings the community together.
Ester Italiano, Chairperson of the Pastoral Council at Our Lady of Immigrants Catholic Church, mentioned that her committee initiated the idea with Parish Priest Fr Bernard Lanarolle.
“It was a way of bringing people from all walks of life to feel like they belong to the [Harvey] community,” Ms Italiano said.
“It has a lot of different benefits; it has benefitted the young people who come to get takeaways for their mothers, grandmothers, for their family.
“[It has also benefitted] the widowers who rarely get out of the house, now they a have a reason to and meet other people and for everyone to know other members in the community,” she added.
Fr Lanarolle said the Harvey Community Dinner is the result of prolonged, careful planning and formation.
“The aim of the community dinner has always been to foster a healthy bond and spirit within the community and to support people who are struggling in life.
“The inspiration comes directly from the Gospel mandate of Jesus to love one another and feed the hungry, for whatever we do to the least, we do to Him," he added.
Volunteers are helping to serve food to the community members who are present at the Parish Hall. Photo: Fr Bernard Lanarolle.
Fr Lanarolle said the community dinner usually caters for about 130 to 140 people, with 10 to 15 volunteers per week who collect donated food, cook, pack, serve food, and clean dishes.
Ms Italiano stated the community dinner has been fortunate to have a group of people willing to donate their time to cook, while others clean up.
“Colleagues from businesses and local community groups, groups of friends, club teammates and individuals come together and bring a real sense of community and friendship while also having fun,” Ms Italiano said.
The SecondBite, a national charity organisation through which supermarkets contribute unsold produce, provides vegetables and fruits while the Parish purchases the proteins such as poultry, meat, and fish.
“The community dinner is self-funded. The diners make donations, and we purchase the proteins from the donation money collected. We don’t use the Parish’s budget on these dinners,” Fr Lanarolle said.
“Fortunately we have not come across the problem [of the limited supply of food] in the past 18 months.”
Volunteers prepare food for a Harvey Community Dinner, with the vegetables and fruits donated by SecondBite. Photo: Fr Bernard Lanarolle.
With more than 100 meals served, Harvey Senior High School students – who are unable to bring food to school – will receive any leftover food from the dinner as a form of donation.
Harvey community members have the choice to attend the dinner held at the Parish Hall or to have the food as takeaways.
The weekly dinner has often been the highlight of the week for the community with some diners bringing in drinks to share, despite the cold winter weather.
“The dinner has been successful beyond expectations, reaching many people from different backgrounds,” Ms Italiano said.
“On Christmas Day 2017, volunteers staged a traditional lunch which attracted over 100 people who were delighted with the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in the company of others.”
Fr Lanarolle concluded by saying the weekly Harvey Community Dinner is to continue indefinitely.