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Monday, 09 April 2018 18:31

Young Friars' Van volunteers meeting Jesus on Sydney's streets

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Friars vanOn Friday and Saturday evenings, the Friar’s Van, a ministry of the Capuchin Friars of Australia, heads out in Central Sydney to give hot drinks and sweets to those experiencing different forms of poverty, hardship and homelessness, XT3.com reports.

There are usually two friars and around five young volunteers each night they serve in the St Mary's Cathedral vicinity. The van is parked about 50 metres from another van organised by another group distributing food, and after collecting their food, the people head down to the Friars’ Van for their hot drink of coffee, tea or chocolate and for some sweets.

The most important task of the friars and volunteers is the welcome given to the people. They spend time simply listening and speaking with them. On the streets these people experience suspicion and fear from passers-by, and so are avoided by others. They experience marginalisation and loneliness. The friars and volunteers welcome them and ‘waste’ time with them.

Ivan, one of the volunteers of the Friars' Van Ministry says he is thankful for the opportunity to serve people in this way.

Friarsvanvolunteers“As a full time PhD student, weekdays can get very busy and interacting with more people can be difficult,” he says. “I am thankful for being able to volunteering with Friars Van because it allows me to make a pause from my day-to-day activities; volunteering reminds me what everything I do is really about and thus gives meaning to my work: to love God and to love my neighbour.”

Ivan says his time volunteering with the Friar’s Van has been a time of spiritual growth.

“The friendships that I have made while volunteering, both with other volunteers and with the people we serve, have been very inspiring in my spiritual life,” he says.

“Sometimes I can easily get too anxious overthinking about my own problems and the numerous things I have to do. Yet, when I have the opportunity to serve I feel joy and peace.”

Ivan says he considers himself a shy person, but his volunteer work with the Friar’s Van has helped him be present to the people he meets.

“Although my heart felt a great passion to serve, when I first joined the Friars Van, I wondered if I would be able to go and be the first one to talk to the people,” he says.

“There is a great difference in just serving coffee to actually engage with the people, listen to their stories and being able to stand in their shoes.

“Whenever we are faced with situations we cannot master or control, there is a sense of fear. However, by going out of my comfort zone God has taught me to trust more in Him. He strengthens my spirit to do what He asks from me.”

The full version of this story and accompanying photos were first published on XT3.com.