Thankyou & Farewell

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Members of the Office for Social Justice Team L to R Lyn Delaguiado, John Ferguson, Sandie Cornish

Dear Friends,

I write to inform you of significant changes occurring with the Office for Social Justice and to ask for your continued support for the work of this small office that serves the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.

Following a series of reviews and with financial restrictions that are having an impact on all areas of Church life – and more broadly across society – there has been a need to rationalise a range of agencies and offices across the board.

The staffing of the Office for Social Justice is being reduced to one position. The Administrative Officer, Lyn Delaguiado, and I will soon be leaving the Office and Dr Sandie Cornish will be taking up the position of Social Justice Officer with the Bishops Commission for Social Justice.

There are other agencies and offices of the Bishops Conference that are also facing these same unavoidable pressures.

Have no fear! The work of the Office for Social Justice continues. And it is in the safe hands of my colleague and friend Sandie who, as you know, is well known and eminently qualified to serve the Bishops in this capacity and to continue to develop the substantial legacy of the Bishops’ social justice tradition and mission in Australia.

Your support for the Office for Social Justice and of Sandie’s work with the Bishops is more important than ever. Already the Bishops Commission is preparing to institute plans to amplify the social justice voice and works of the Church in Australia.

I want to say thank you for the great privilege and honour of working with you.

Thank you to my wonderful staff, past and present, and to colleagues throughout the agencies of the Bishops Conference – each one inspired and motivated by their love for the Church and the vulnerable people Christ calls us to serve.

Thank you to members of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council who have brought such expertise and wisdom across the wide-ranging portfolio of social policy and social justice. They have given of their time freely and most generously.

Thanks to our wonderful network of Diocesan Social Justice Contacts around Australia and to the social justice organisations and networks of the Religious Orders and lay associations we collaborate with.

It goes without saying that the contributions of authors, suppliers and supporters like you are absolutely essential to the work of this Office. Thank you!

It has been such an honour to work for the Bishops. I started as a humble Research Officer at the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission in 1994. I was young, with high ideals, and hoped to be a force of real change for the benefit of people who are downtrodden and oppressed. Over the years, there has been the occasional grand victory. But, for the most part, what wins the day is the culmination of small victories by individuals and communities working tirelessly together, day-by-day, for the good of all and with a special concern for the most vulnerable.

I have certainly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in the collaboration of a whole range of communities striving for social justice in Australia and globally. And I have no doubt that I have encountered Christ in sisters, brothers and communities who are distressed, devalued or despised by the mainstream. The opportunity to work with them and for them has been a blessing.

We share this mission and ministry as people of faith and as members of broader society.

May God bless us in our ongoing work for social justice!

John Ferguson

Director, Office for Social Justice