Happy Mother's Day

After so many challenges in recent times, this year will provide welcome opportunity for families to gather and celebrate. Gathering through times of challenge, we can renew and deepen our appreciation of the great blessings of relationships and family and love in our lives.  For some the day will be a time to honour an important mother figure who might be a carer, another family member, an aunty, grandmother or someone very special who may be related by love and care rather than by heredity. The day can evoke a range of emotions for some people who experience feelings of loss or disconnection.

The celebration of Mother's Day began in the United States in the early 20th century, inspired by the life and work of Ann Jarvis, and brought to fruition by the love, admiration and efforts of her daughter Anna. Living in the 19th century, Ann Jarvis was a committed member of the Methodist faith and a social activist. Her remarkable contribution to the society in which she lived was the formation of Mother's Day Work Clubs in the local churches. She called on the women of her communities to join the clubs and combat the poor health and sanitation conditions that existed in their communities which contributed to the high mortality rate of children. The clubs were highly successful and their role in tackling the local community problem was honoured by the population.

During the American Civil War, a time of tragedy, social division and enormous loss of life, Ann Jarvis urged the members of Mother's Day Work Clubs to take a neutral stand and nurse both Union and Confederate soldiers. At the conclusion of the war she organized a Mothers' Friendship Day in her community, which was done to bring together soldiers and neighbours of all political beliefs. The event was a big success and came to be organised annually for several years to promote peace and friendship. At the time of her death in the early 20th century, her daughter Anna Jarvis took up her call for a day to recognise Mothers, eventually succeeding in  Mother's Day being recognised in the second Sunday of May.

In Australia, our celebration of Mother's Day began in 1924 in the suburb of Leichardt in Sydney's inner west through the initiative of Janet Heydon, a committee member of the Home for Destitute Women and Children in Strathfield. On one occasion visiting a patient she had the idea of arranging gifts for the mothers to ease their loneliness and isolation. She then decided, 'why stop there' and made a broader appeal to the public which was to eventually become celebrated in Australia as Mother's Day.

The origins of Mother's Day invite us to reflect on the inspiring role of these activists who advocated for health, rights and social equity while also promoting peace and reconciliation after a destructive civil war.

The history of the day also highlights the compassionate care of these great women, reaching out to people on the margins of society, and in nurturing and caring for children and families. This echoes the work of CatholicCare as we walk with people during tough times in their lives, through programs to help families, counselling, separation support, foster care, support for older people living at home and many other frontline services.   

A big happy Mother’s Day to all mother's, grandmother's, step mum's and foster mum's. I wish you all a joyful day with your families, a special day to be cherished, celebrated and surrounded with love.

Blessings all,

Michael Austin, Director

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