Celebrating 100 years of All Saints Church

More than 600 people were on hand to greet the Bishop of Lismore, Greg Homeming, Parish Priest, James Foster and special guest, author Tom Keneally as they honoured the early priests who travelled throughout the Macleay by arriving on a horse and sulky. Bishop Greg led the priests who celebrated the Anniversary Mass on 17 July. Celebrating with Bishop Greg were Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett (Bishop Emeritus of Lismore), Fr Paul Gooley (former Parish Priest of Kempsey) and the current Parish Priest, Fr James Foster.

The idea of a horse and sulky came from some parish pastoral council members and the organising committee loved the idea. 100 years ago, people got around on horseback or horse and sulky. The parish is blessed to have the incredible Sharon and Bill Clarke residing in Kempsey who have won national titles in carriage driving. They have a real passion for their beautiful horses and the carriages and sulkies they have lovingly restored. It was a special way to start off a magnificent day of celebrations.

The large crowd present highlighted the love that people have for All Saints Church is truly inspirational! It is a place of belonging precious to our community, a home and an oasis where memories are made, joy is shared and tears are shed, and above all where love is felt and lived. A number of people returned to Kempsey for the occasion including legendary Australian author Tom Keneally, as well as relatives of some of the church’s earliest priests, religious and lay people. Mayor Leo Hauville and Author Tom Keneally addressed the more than 600 parishioners and guests at the conclusion of Mass.

During the gourmet morning tea, Sr Cabrini cut the cake and was presented with a papal blessing in recognition of her exemplary service to Macleay Valley Parish.

After drought, fires, floods, covid and so many challenges in recent years- it was lovely for everyone to gather together and enjoy themselves. The Organising Committee wanted to do something special and memorable for all to enjoy.

Article by Fr James Foster

Meet Sister Cabrini – who loves calling Vincent Court home

Sister Cabrini is such a special part of Vincent Court and is loved by our whole community. We sat down and asked her about her childhood, what drew her to a life of service, and why she feels at home here at Vincent Court.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Kempsey and our family dairy farm was in Monday Creek. I had three older sisters and one older brother. My siblings and I used to walk two miles to attend a little bush school. Sometimes we rode a horse, but I was happy to walk. All the classes were held in the one room, we played school sports, and every now and then, we’d have a competition with other nearby schools. Our teacher lived in the schoolhouse with his wife, and every Friday afternoon, they’d pack up and go to Crescent Head for the weekend.

What do you like to do?

That’s a hard question because I like most things. I like life. I really can’t think of anything I don’t like!

When did you become a Sister?

After I finished at the school in Monday Creek, I went to boarding school in Kempsey. Then, I went to college in Grafton and I met the Nuns who I greatly admired. I was just 17 but something pulled me to this way of life, and that was God. I don’t think you can perform this role if you don’t have God on your side or if He doesn’t want you to do it.

What do love most about a being a Sister?

One of the most important things for me was teaching in the infant school where I’d tell the children about God. They got to know who He was through me. I hope that today, wherever those children are, God is important to them. I’ve never regretted not having a husband – I had God so I didn’t have to worry about other fellas!

Why do you enjoy living at Vincent Court?

I used to volunteer here and I’m so happy to live here now. I’m part of a beautiful community, and I enjoy doing so many things with others, like handicraft and exercise group and helping others. I love looking out of the windows and seeing the trees reaching up to the clouds, with the birds singing. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. And I’m very well fed and care for. I haven’t a complaint in the world!

Why does Vincent Court feel like home?

I think it’s home because I can be who I am. And everyone around me feels like friends and family.

Meet Kylie – our highly experienced and compassionate Manager

Our Residential Service Manager, Kylie Bonney has worked in the aged-care industry for almost two decades. Her experience encompasses many different aspects of aged care, having held roles in facility management, workforce management, administration and care. Born in Port Macquarie, she moved to Telegraph Point in 2014.

What do you love most about managing Vincent Court?

I first came to Vincent Court as Acting Manager in 2020 where I spent eight months getting to know residents and staff. I welcomed the opportunity to come back as Residential Service Manager earlier this year. I’ve always loved to help others, and here I’m able to support residents to live their best life. I focus on building respectful relationships with residents and their families, and on helping ensure that every staff member is happy and enjoying their role to the fullest.

What do you think makes Vincent Court so special?

When people ask me what this community feels like, I tell them that it’s like walking into your own home and feeling safe and loved. It’s a homely environment that’s welcoming and happy. It’s a place where residents feel respected and it’s also a place that’s full of positive energy. People are happy to be around others here.

How do you think you’re making a difference to residents and staff?

I’m passionate about ensuring residents are supported to live the life they choose. I try to make a positive impact by being available to listen to any concerns and also celebrate any achievements. I try to lead by example with our team. By working together, we’re able to do great things for residents and our community.

Fun Facts

Favourite pastime: Camping and exploring the local area

Favourite food: Anything sweet, especially chocolate

Reading or TV: Reading, but I’m secretly a big fan of the Minions movies!

If you could travel anywhere: I would pack up the caravan and start driving with no set destination. We explored Australia for 9 months when my children were little and it was a brilliant experience that we will never forget.

Vincent Court – helping the next generation of Nurses and Carers

Thirteen Year 11 & 12 students from St Paul’s Catholic Secondary College in Kempsey have commenced a Cert III training course in Individual Support using Vincent Court as a living classroom.

This first-of-a-kind program gives students a pathway to future study and career options in aged care and nursing. It also promises to deliver many benefits to the residents and wider community.

During the course, students will undertake a range of practical training and classroom activities led by St Paul’s Teacher, Amanda Jones, who is also a Registered Nurse with a background in aged care.

It is hoped that by later this year, the students will be equipped with the skills required to help care for residents under supervision. After successfully completing the Certificate, students can choose to apply to study Nursing or commence work as an Enrolled Nurse or a Carer.

Residential Service Manager, Kylie Bonney, says the program is a win-win for everyone involved.

“Residents will enjoy the connections and interactions with these young pupils, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for students to gain real-world learning that can propel them to a future career. They’ll get to experience first-hand Vincent Court’s resident-first culture, and will gain valuable insights into the rewards of caring for older Australians,” she said.

In line with current health guidelines, all students will be Covid tested at school prior to entering Vincent Court and will also be temperature checked on arrival each day.

Celebrating our Coffee Shop ‘Queen’ Bea

Bea symbolises everything that makes our volunteers so wonderful.

Originally from Sydney, Bea moved to the Macleay Valley region in 1985 where she began volunteering with the Catholic Church and St Vincent de Paul. Even when she worked full-time at Telstra for 17 years, she still made time to continue her volunteering work and has been helping our Vincent Court community for the past nine years.

What do you do here? 

I come four days a week and run the Coffee Shop in the mornings and some afternoons I take residents out on shopping trips. I’m also part of the Pastoral Care team so I offer emotional support to residents and bring Mass to them if they’re unable to come to our Chapel.

How would you describe the Coffee Shop? 

It’s the pulse of Vincent Court! All of us have so much fun at the Coffee Shop – the residents, their families and the staff, too. We play music and people get up and dance, and it’s become a favourite place to connect. So many residents enjoy their morning ritual of stopping by and having a coffee or a milkshake and something delicious from the kitchen. The Coffee Shop is part of their day and part of their home.

What do you love most about Vincent Court? 

I’d have to say it’s the genuine connection and bond between the residents and the people who work here. I can’t speak highly enough of our team – they go out of their way to make sure each and every resident feels safe, happy and comfortable, just like they would at home.

Why is this role so important to you? 

The people here are like family to me. I always feel so appreciated, but I view myself as the lucky one. Just being able to help them and spend time with them is so special.