Newsletter 10: 14 August 2018
We all know from our junior Geography lessons that Australia is the driest continent on earth. A brief review of weather records for the past 200 years readily presents the reality of repeated periods of drought in different parts of the country. The current drought effecting Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria is among the most severe on record.
With the majority of Australians being coastal and urban dwellers, experience of drought is often limited to camera footage on the nightly television news or pictures on front pages of newspapers. However drought pervades all aspects of life for those in effected areas. Drought takes a painful, slow and strengthening grip on the land, gradually restricting life under endless days of cloudless pale blue skies. For farmers and graziers, the urgency grows as feed stockpiled for a dry season becomes depleted and grain, hay and water has to be bought to keep sheep and cattle alive. White brittle grass, scant among the dust and dirt slowly disappears all together. Animals weakened by hunger and thirst fall as carrion to crows and other birds of prey. Dams become empty and parched, their floors a cracked maze of dried clay. The country looks so desolate as to despair. A drought costs money and the associated financial pressures are immense.
As a family of schools, collectively Marists serve many families from the current drought effected areas. Last week I was honoured to be a dinner guest of the boarders at Assumption College in Kilmore. Much of our conversation that evening was to do with the drought, and its impact. What impressed most was the resilience and hope evident among these good young people, and the affection and admiration with which they spoke of their parents. In responding to the calamity of drought, it has long been the custom for Catholics in the bush to “pray for rain”. Bishop Columba Macbeth, a past student of Red Bend Catholic College and from a farming family, has made an urgent request for prayers from people all over Australia. Last week after travelling to meet with stricken farmers Bishop Columba said,
“Please join us in prayer and solidarity as we beg the Lord for rain to bring relief to our soil and to our farmers. Let us ask Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to grant us rain and assistance for farmers and properties who are stricken with drought.”
Tomorrow as we celebrate the Feast Day of the Assumption of Our Lady, let us join as one in prayer with and through Mary, for our fellow Australians suffering in the current crisis caused by drought, and ask God to grant us rain.
Saint Vincent de Paul have launched a Drought Appeal and donations can be made by calling 13 18 12 or visiting www.vinnies.org.au.