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This retired couple’s work in a Brisbane cafe is helping care for pro-life and pro-family groups

Joan Armstrong Majorie and Neville Williams

Savoury service: Long-time Cathedral Coffee Lounge worker for 25 years Joan Armstrong with Marjorie and Neville Williams, who have supported Joan for 15 years.

RETIREES dream of getting away from the daily grind, but not married couple Marjorie and Neville Williams.
The long-time supporters of the country’s largest Catholic women’s peak body, the Catholic Women’s League, are the “heart and soul” of a coffee shop dedicated to fund the Brisbane archdiocese’s branch’s work.
Mrs Williams has served up some of the city’s best sandwiches for the past 15 years while her husband has lent a helping hand since retiring seven years ago.
The pair became involved in volunteering at the coffee shop during their working life.
“They knew I ran my own little catering business for schools, and I looked after eight schools and two government education departments,” Mrs Williams said.
As the former president for the Aspley branch in 1984, Mrs Williams was already a well-known figure to the Catholic Women’s League former chaplain Fr Bill McCarthy.
“And then I got a call from Fr McCarthy who knew what I could do because I did it for our CWL branch,” Mrs Williams said.
“He was in hospital and that’s where it started.”
Neville, a retired engineer, would even drop into the coffee shop during his lunch break, not for one of his wife’s sandwiches, but to assist the busy ladies with the food preparation.
“When he retired he invited himself along,” Mrs Williams said.
Over the years the pair have worked with hundreds of volunteers, but are on the look out for more especially for four hours on a Tuesday.
Being Catholic isn’t even a requirement.

CWL Coffee Lounge

Coffee shop enthusiasts: Executive committee members for the Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Women’s League branch say the coffee lounge is the “right arm” for the group.

“I don’t care if you’re Callithumpian, we have no discrimination against race, colour, creed,” Mrs Williams said.
“I’ve had Germans, Dutch, Vietnamese, Sri Lankans, Filipino, Italians, Greeks, Slovakian even.
“If they want to come and get work experience, that’s quite alright.
“We’ll have anybody.”
While the present coffee lounge at the Penola Place basement has been around since 1992, the first CWL café opened in 1928 in the Civic Building.
That café opened in 1928 and, according to a CWL historian, served “the cheapest refreshments in Brisbane”.
Today, proceeds from the coffee longue continue to fund the members’ commitment to supporting pro-life and pro-family groups, as well as initiatives helping refugee and women in violence.
Archdiocesan branch president Sandy O’Donohue said the coffee was the CWL’s “right arm”.
“Without it we are nothing in Brisbane,” Mrs O’Donohue said.
Mrs O’Donohue said without the coffee lounge, there would be hundreds of people throughout Brisbane without love.
“We really try to be a force out there and let people know we do care,” she said.
“We have a voice, and we’ve got to use it especially in this Year of Mercy.
“Even with a smile, just to show people they’re not worthless, they’re worth something.
“That’s our focus.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Cathedral Coffee Lounge can call Mrs Williams on 3336 9240.

By Emilie Ng

Catholic Church Insurance

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