Fighting loneliness with a good cup of tea
Recently widowed Merimbula parishioner Teresa Hamer found herself sitting on her own at home one Sunday. “It was the pits,” she said. “I thought, ‘how many other women [were] sitting alone, feeling the same thing as me?’”
So, Teresa decided to do something about her feelings and create a group specifically for women who felt lonely, whether they had lost a partner, lost friends, lived alone, or had just moved to the area.
Her idea was to meet every few months at a local café, connect with other women in the parish and exchange telephone numbers so they could make friends, and find someone to go to the movies with or share a hobby.
Teresa approached local priest Fr Pale Leota who embraced the idea with enthusiasm.
“Father was so supportive and he spoke about it at all mass centres,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without him.” Invitations also went out in weekly mass bulletins.
Teresa was worried about not getting numbers. She confessed if she had got 10 to 15 women to come, she would have been excited. But 24 women attended from Eden, Pambula, Merimbula and surrounds, with six apologies.
Many asked if they could invite others to the next gathering. Teresa quickly realised there was a great need for connection.
The women’s group met at Oaklands Café in Pambula. As the seating was designated, nobody had to be stressed about where they were to sit, a touch many women thanked her for.
Many swapped phone numbers and formed new friendships. All were regular mass attendees, and each shared their life story with the person next to them.
The common question asked was, “Why were we on our own?” For Teresa, this event showed them that, in fact, they were not. They had found community in the church.
Sr Marie Carson, who came from Eden with Sr Benedetta Bennett, said, “We had a marvellous time. So wonderful to meet other women from around the parish; it was a very joyful occasion.”
The next women’s meeting is scheduled for the end of August and excitement is high.