Friars, Free Coffee and Carols for the Homeless

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
18 Dec 2015

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP with Capuchin Friars and volunteers

On Friday and Saturday evening this week, the Capuchin Friars will bring the joy of Christmas to the homeless men and women of Sydney with a free Carols event.

On Friday and Saturday evenings the Friars' Van heads out from the friary at Leichhardt to a space near St Mary's Cathedral to serve hot drinks and sweets to those experiencing different forms of poverty, hardship and homelessness.
The Friars' Van parks on the Yurong Parkway, opposite a van from another group which distributes food.  After collecting their evening meal, the people walk across to the Friars' Van for a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, a small sweet treat and a chat.

The conversation is the most important task of the Friars and volunteers.  The Friars say that Sydney's rough sleepers experience suspicion and fear on the streets, and are often avoided by passersby.  The Friars' Van is a response to this, and a way to go out into the peripheries of our society to seek out the marginalised and build a culture of encounter.
While the Friars and their volunteers seek each week to bring Christ to the homeless, they will do so in a special way this weekend with "Carols by the Friars' Van."

Volunteers from the Capuchin Young Adults who usually provide music for the young adults' Mass held every weekend at St Fiacre's Parish in Leichhardt will bring their instruments and singing voices to the Friars' Van site this weekend to lead everyone gathered in Carols.  An email went out to the 400 volunteers who are on the Friars' Van roster, inviting them and their family and friends to join the event.

Brother John Nguyen OFM Cap with Friars Van volunteers

It is the first time the event has occurred, but Friars' Van co-ordinator Brother John Nguyen OFM Cap hopes that it will be an annual event, growing in size and popularity each year.

"We've been hearing about other Carols events happening throughout the city, so we thought: why not bring the Christmas spirit to those we serve?" said Brother John.  "They usually have to seek out invitations for Christmas celebrations, and it is rare that people will seek our brothers and sisters out to share Christmas with them."

Brother John said he will also bring along a Nativity scene and set it up by the van, so that Christ - the true gift of Christmas - will be a focal point of the evening.

Brother John also said that the regular visitors to the Friars' Van don't know about the event, so he is hoping they will receive a nice surprise this weekend.

In addition to the Carols, Friars' Van volunteers dressed up in Christmas gear will distribute "bags of goodies", with non-perishable food items and other items to be used over the summer.

All are welcome to join the Friars this Friday and Saturday evening from 7.45pm-9pm on the corner of Yurong Parkway and Riley Street, Wooloomooloo.

And there is the added bonus of strolling up the road to see the Lights of Christmas on the facade of St Mary's Cathedral - through to midnight.