Perth Bushfires 2021: A home is built with compassionate, gentle, kind, forgiving, patient and loving hearts, says agency director
By Theresia Titus
Archdiocesan retreat centre Eagle's Nest has escaped major damage during the recent Wooroloo Bushfires, thanks to the quickthinking efforts of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services crews.
Caretaker Geof Bedells explained to The Record that the bushfires caused only minor damage to the 40-year-old plus formation and retreat centre.
"It is untouched apart from the fences," Mr Bedells said.
"We're very grateful for the firefighters' presence and for everything they have done. The minor damage is a small price to pay," he continued.
Mr Bedells explained he was not alarmed in the hours leading up to the fires approaching Eagles Nest.
"I had several contingency plans in place, because it was something that I face every day. There certainly weren’t any surprises,” Mr Bedells explained.
Archdiocesan retreat centre Eagle’s Nest has escaped major damage during the recent Wooroloo Bushfires, thanks to the quickthinking efforts of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services crews. Photo: Geof Bedells.
Mr Bedells said his fire management plan had allowed him time to pack and prepare the property for the emergency.
"It is part of my role that I protect the property from fire. We have often understood that there's a possibility of it coming through, so it's just a matter of undertaking the necessary preparation, even though it is a lot of work.”
He felt relieved upon seeing the property’s main building was still intact when he returned on Friday last week.
The retreat and formation centre is currently still closed for some repairs.
Archdiocesan retreat centre Eagle’s Nest has escaped major damage during the recent Wooroloo Bushfires, thanks to the quick-thinking efforts of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services crews. Photo: Geof Bedells.
Archdiocesan Centre for Life, Marriage and Family (CLMF) Director Derek Boylen also recalled to The Record his experience of the fires.
The family home of Mr Boylen and his wife Karen, together with their eight children, was just 200 metres from the fire.
While most of WA residents were preparing for a week of lockdown, Mr Boylen and his wife, Karen and their children found themselves preparing their home in Brigadoon for the fire that started heading their way on Monday afternoon, 1 February.
"By 11.30pm the Department of Fire and Emergency Services had moved our home from a "Watch and Act" designation to an "Emergency Evacuation" status. With a statue and icon of Our Lady to protect our home, we packed important belongings and left," Mr Boylen said.
Mr Boylen and his family spent the next week anxiously waiting to see the outcome in the homes of generous family and friends.
"It was difficult to describe what it was like watching and waiting to find out if your house and property have survived a bushfire of this magnitude," Mr Boylen expressed.
"You listen to the ABC News, and then you look on the various bushfire watch applications, then you check Facebook for updates from neighbours, and then you go back to the ABC News; again and again."
As the fire came to within 200 metres of their property on two sides, Mr Boylen felt nothing but grace through the ample prayers and offers of support they received throughout the process from family, friends and the Catholic community.
The fire came as close as 200 metres from the home of Centre for Life Marriage and Family Director Derek Boylen. Photo: Sourced.
"As we waited to discover the fate of our home we felt incredibly supported by a vast community of people of faith from all over the Archdiocese and the country," Mr Boylen shared.
"It was this incredible support that reminded us of something very important: a home is not built with bricks and mortar; a home is built with compassionate, gentle, kind, forgiving, patient and loving hearts. It is built of meaningful relationships, and it is built on faith.
"These kinds of homes can be built wherever we are, and they can't be destroyed by fire or catastrophe. These kinds of homes, in the face of adversity, become even stronger and endure longer (Matt 6:19-21)," he continued.
"Karen and I, sincerely thank everyone who prayed and offered their support to us. Words can't express how much it meant to us and how much it has helped! Grace has been abundant!" Mr Boylen concluded.
Micah Boylen talks with ambulance officers during the family’s evacuation following the recent Perth fires that came as close as 200 metres from the Boylen family home. Photo: Derek Boylen.
Australian Government Disaster payments are available to eligible people who have been adversely affected or lost income as a direct result of the WA bushfires.
The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment of $1,000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children who have been injured, or for people whose home has been significantly damaged or destroyed as a result of the bushfires.
For more information contact 180 22 66 Monday to Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm or go to www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/disaster