Whilst in Rome, Rev Francis Feain felt a deep calling from God to trust Him completely for all his needs and start a community that would reach out to the street people. At that time Frank was a Christian Brother who had suffered much physical and psychological pain, leaving him on an invalid pension. Humanly speaking most would not have recommended Frank for such an endeavour due to his physical frailty. But God chose one who, despite the apparent obstacles, had incredible faith to believe in a God who was able to do what appeared to be impossible.
On Easter Tuesday, 1986, with the approval and encouragement of his Provincial, Br Frank Chappel, Francis, together with Patrick Barry and a single mother and child, moved into a house in Melbourne. At this time they also began going out onto the streets at night to reach out in love to the street people. Soon after Patrick Barry, Lu Feain (nee Matkowsky) and Elena Reidy were inspired to make similar responses to God's call to give up all and serve Him with their lives through worship and reaching out to those on the streets, while trusting Him for all their needs. These became the Foundation Members of the Community.
The first official ministry house that Frank was offered to use, was in Moonee Ponds and fondly referred to as 'the Greenhouse', mainly because it was bright green! There began our life, living together, praying together, continuing our street outreach and welcoming those from the street, who needed accommodation, to come and live with us. That first year was a very intense time with many sharp learning curves, with enormous challenges but God constantly showing up providing and intervening, leading and guiding us in many astounding ways.
By 1990 we had discerned that God wanted us to open up a community in Perth. Thus in September of that year some of us from Melbourne, came to Perth and began a Community there with Archbishop Foley's permission. After a somewhat turbulent beginning, we ended up renting a house from St Gerard Majella's Catholic Church in Balga which then remained our Community home for many years. Various ministry centres opened and closed in Perth, the most well known being the St Joseph's house in Stirling St Highgate. This became the " Church" for many of the ladies who at that time were allowed to prostitute themselves in that area. Many long lasting relationships developed over that time until the local council closed us down because they wanted to "clean up" the streets and saw us as part of the problem, attracting "undesirables" into the area.
A spiritual base was established in Pemberton at Karriholm- God's Sanctuary, which had already been run as a Christian centre for about 10 years prior to the Community's arrival.
(More about Karriholm's amazing history can be read in an attached article written by Josephine Bendotti which is included in the Pemberton section)
Again in response to what we discerned to be God's call, we also opened a Community in Manila, Philippines in 1996. In 2007 this Community moved to Cebu where it continues to minister to those on the streets.
Over the years our Community has experienced incredible demonstrations of God's Divine Providence that has arrived as a result of faith-filled prayer. This has ranged from money to pay bills, washing machines, houses, shoes and the list could go on and on. All of this has taught us to trust His nearness and know beyond any doubt how much this call is close to His Heart.
Many precious and heroic lives have been part of this story. Most will never get mentioned here in this world but are heroes of love, sacrifice and faith which will receive their well-earned reward only when they come face to face with our Father in Heaven. Some have only been a part of this call for a "season" before being called onto other vocations. Among these are also those who have journeyed deeply with us and become part of our "spiritual" or "street" family who either have in the past or continue to battle with enormous social, economic, addiction and/or mental health issues. These lives are our 'heartbeat' and deepest treasures, as we walk, run and at times stumble on into the unknown of this journey we are on that continues to unfold before us.