Patrice's long journey to and from McAuley House

Patrice has made many long journeys since she first set off from Myanmar and arrived by boat in Australia as a refugee in 1968. Some have been painful journeys. But at every step of the way she has felt the support of the Sisters of Mercy and the services they run. Patrice’s arrival in Melbourne in 2000 was no exception. She was sick and homeless and ended up moving into McAuley House – a place she called home for four years.

McAuley House, the staff, the women who live there and the Sisters of Mercy who volunteer there, remain a lifeline for Patrice who now lives in a small inner city Melbourne flat. She is excited that the bus to the new McAuley House in Footscray is at the end of her street.

“Ever since I came to Australia the Sisters have helped me. I recently had to go to hospital for an operation and Sr Maureen came often to see me and to make sure I was doing okay,” Patrice said. “Lucy from McAuley House is helping all the women, who used to live there, work out how they can get to the new place in Footscray by bus, train or tram, so that we can still be part of everything.”

Patrice, a former physics teacher, is very much part of McAuley House even though she left more than a decade ago. On the last Wednesday of each month she goes to the birthday night celebrations where current and past residents gather for a party. She loves to go the weekly Mass celebrated at McAuley House and goes on many of the social outings organised throughout the year including visiting gardens in Kyneton, movie nights or coffee shop visits.

Patrice feels as welcome at McAuley House now as she did in 2000. She was sick and the care she received helped her get back on her feet. As well, she got to help out with the cooking, serving up some curries to the women. She also got involved in the recreational program doing some painting and joined the singing group.

“It can get lonely living alone so I like to go to McAuley House. There’s lots of love and lots of understanding. When I first went to McAuley House it was with the Sisters and now there are not many Sisters at all, but the good will hasn’t changed,” Patrice said.

“I see some women come into McAuley House in a bad way, but they go out okay because they find love. They come feeling rejected and they find a home. It isn’t a room or a house, it’s a home.”

5 December 2016