More than just a home
What started as a simple idea in 2004, has now developed into a loving residence that has been supporting men and women with mental illness for 10 years.
Fr Peter Day, a priest of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, first thought of creating a home for those with mental illness while meditating at St Raphael’s Church in Queanbeyan one Thursday night in 2004.
“This idea just came to me and I gently held it, and then after the hour of silence I just let it go. But it just kept coming back to me,” he said.
Fr Peter gained knowledge and an understanding of mental health and homelessness during his formation for priesthood in the 1990s on the streets of Sydney.
“I came across a lot of homelessness and mental illness, which was the first I had encountered in my life and it had a big impact on me,” he said.
“In 1997 I spent eight months on the streets and I feel like it was the people on the streets who called me to a priesthood.”
Fast forward to 2020 and HOME in Queanbeyan has been operating for 10 years.
“After one year it was a milestone and in 50 years it will still be a milestone,” he said.
“For me, each day we start again and there’s no expertise here and we haven’t arrived; it is always calling us deeper.”
With HOME in partial lockdown, Fr Peter says the coronavirus restrictions have caused them to slow down and connect with one another.
“Because we don’t have a lot of people coming in due to COVID-19, some residents have bonded in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t have which has been really good to see,” he said.
“I think for many it has been good in reminding people relationships are really important and we can’t do relationships at pace or on the run, and I think we live on the run and there is a lot of loneliness.”
At HOME, Fr Peter is a loving presence in the community that gives hope and a sense of belonging to those who need it most.
“Love works, it always has and it always will. You can never do enough and we are only touching the surface,” he said.