Sr Fidelis sm, gives us this good news from St Patrick's Church Hill, Sydney:
Geography played a significant role in our planning Saturday mornings for our guests who sleep on the streets locally. St. Patrick's Church's local area would be familiar to many, either from visits or from tourism displays.
We are located almost beneath the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the route to Central Station at the southern end of the city passes by Hyde Park and the main retail centre, and skirts Darling Harbour. It is noticeable that there is very little service in terms of food for the homeless here in Harrington street compared to areas near Central Station and around Hyde Park. This is especially true on the weekends, and was the impetus for providing a Saturday morning breakfast at our church.
Initially, we had about 50 guests, and this soon grew to an average of seventy men mainly but also women, and youth as young as fifteen. So far, the largest group was one hundred. Not only have the numbers grown, but so too has menu, and currently there are three courses.
At Breakfast - note Bob Barber sm - former Provincial - in background
Starting at about 4 30 a.m. our guests arrive desperate for that first cup of tea or coffee (with up to six spoons of sugar), Milo, hot chocolate or juice to get them going. At that time they have cereal, yoghurt, croissants and scones. They have time to chat to each other and to the volunteers and this is very important to them.
Sr Fidelis - centre - with some of the homeless, and volunteers, celebrating their Anniversary.
While they wait for the cooked breakfast they wander out to where we offer clothes, shoes, socks, toiletries and many other necessities. A key item for each guest is a swag which is available on request. When they make requests for other items we try to respond to their needs, e.g. we provided a pram for a pregnant woman, and we can help furnish their homes if they are lucky enough to receive a place from the Department of Housing.
At 6 30 a.m. a full breakfast is provided including a core menu of toast, leg ham, bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, fried rice, lasagne, pasta, mushrooms, roast potatoes and baked beans. We try to give a little variation when possible. This is all freshly cooked in the morning by an outstanding team of volunteers. Volunteers include Marist Fathers, school students, teachers, housewives, doctors, lawyers, nurses, bankers and many others who provide advice on issues and help to the guests with other services
The exciting part happens after the main breakfast – dessert. We have discovered that they really enjoy sweet dishes, ice cream being the number one. This is a staple dessert along with bread pudding, cheese cake, apple pie and any other dish we can provide for variety. Any food left is available for take-away.
Now that is what you call a King's Breakfast.