LYNDA Mussell counts it as a privilege to spread the message of how Caritas helps some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
Catholic Agency For Overseas Development counts it as a privilege to spread the message of how Caritas helps some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
Ms Mussell works for Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), the official overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and is on long-service leave volunteering for two months with Caritas Australia.
For the next few weeks she is in Brisbane, working alongside Caritas’ diocesan director Joe Foley.
She will be talking in parishes and schools about her work.
“It’s a privilege to bring to life the international work of Caritas,” Ms Mussell said.
“I love it because I get to be on the frontline.”
There’s a strong passion about Ms Mussell as she talks about recent emergency and disaster relief efforts in Myanmar and Ethiopia, to name just two of the myriad international operations that Caritas undertakes.
Ms Mussell works in Portsmouth in southern England, overseeing the efforts of about 300 community volunteers and reaching out to parishes and schools.
This year, during Lenten and Harvest (first Friday of October) appeals she said her tight-knit team would focus attention on promoting sustainable-livelihood projects in Zambia, in particular, fish-farming projects which can rejuvenate the fortunes of whole communities.
“Through fish-farming, these communities can establish their own sustainable food source. And they can sell the excess fish at market,” she said.
“Our message is one of compassion, solidarity and hope. Everything we do springs from our faith.”
Ms Mussell said while CAFOD, like Caritas Australia, worked directly on overseas projects, it also spoke strongly in parishes and to politicians about issues such as climate justice and migration, and “why we feel passionate about it”.
She has marched on Number 10 Downing Street, behind banners promoting environmental prudence and “care for our common home” – drawing directly on the message contained in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
Over the summer, Ms Mussell said she visited parishes to spread the Pope’s message about refugees, and to let people know that Caritas was one of the few agencies still working in Syria in both government and opposition-held areas.
“Just about every talk we give relates back to Pope Francis and his message of hope and welcoming to the outsider,” she said.
In her work, Ms Mussell said she drew particular strength from James 2:14: “My friends, what good is it to say you have faith when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? … What good is it to say this unless you do something to help? Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead.”
While Ms Mussell calls southern England home, she holds dual citizenship and has strong Queensland connections.
“My grandad was a sugar cane farmer in Ayr. My uncle runs the local Mitre 10 there, and my aunty runs the jewellers,” she said.
“In fact I’ve got more family over here than I do in England.
“Here I have been given such a massive welcome – especially by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart who have taken me in.
“I have received so many blessings.”
Growing up in England, Ms Mussell’s earliest childhood memories are of being part of a family who reached out to the local community.
“I remember being put on the back of my Mum’s bike as she rode round the neighbourhood helping, looking after people in need,” she said.
“Then when I grew up I found myself volunteering. I still go to visit people in the parish in my spare time.”
Ms Mussell will speak about Caritas International projects in parishes across Brisbane during Lent.
By Mark Bowling