By Br Anthony Callen C.Ss.R.
After some years working in the clothing store of Matthew Talbot Hostel, in Newcastle, New South Wales, I worked at Charles O’Neill House (CONH), an inner city project of the St Vincent de Paul Society.
At CONH we provided a residence to a group of younger men whose capacity to manage ordinary life had disappeared or been severely diminished. A key part of our strategy was to re-educate them for independent living. It was a mission I really enjoyed.
Troy (not his real name), a 25 year old man, came to us after an extended period on hard drugs. The first few weeks were tough on him but he adjusted. Troy was a gutsy person and he gave everything a go.
After a couple of months he told us he would like to work in a bank. We got a bank to take him on for two days a week as a volunteer. The bank then asked him to work for them on an employed basis, full time.
Troy has since moved into his own unit. He has a girlfriend. Sometime later his family sent us a beautiful letter of thanks for “bringing him back to the family”.
I have moved on from CONH, but having enjoyed the years there and the people who came to us, I gratefully retain the memories.
Because there are lots of Troys out there, my life as a Redemptorist brother has given me the opportunity to accompany some of them.