Redfern locals welcome the Word on the street

The Emmanuel Community’s Victoria Costello talks to a passer-by on the street. Photo: Patrick J. Lee

A group of Sydney Catholics are gently but confidently taking Jesus Christ to the streets of Redfern each month.

The outreach run by the Emmanuel Community is a shared passion with the parish priest of Catholic Community of City South Father Paul Smithers. On Friday 13 September around 40 members of the Emmanuel Community and others gathered on Redfern Street outside of St Vincent de Paul Church for the regular ‘mission night’.

While half of the group remained outside to sing praise hymns and offer a friendly greeting, chat, or even the offer of a prayer to passersby, the others prayed for their efforts before the Blessed Sacrament.

Reconciliation was available and people deciding to enter the church had an opportunity to light a candle, pray quietly, take a short scripture passage home, or simply pause for a moment before going on their way.

Rebecca Saleme shares a greeting with passersby on Redfern Street. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

“Our aim is not to get people to come to into the church, some do, but we hope they will have an encounter with Jesus either through our presence outside or anything they encounter inside,” said the Emmanuel Community’s Helen Wagner who believes she has never had an unfriendly reaction to its unique style of street evangelisation.

“Even if someone doesn’t want to engage very much with us but only takes away an impression of a friendly smile and a ‘hello’, that is still valuable,” she said.
“It might be an important step towards building a bridge of trust with the Church.”

Emmanuel Community member Renita Rosario and Sam Laffy discuss life, the universe and everything with members of the public. Photo: Patrick J. Lee

Father Smithers said that the locals appreciate the fact that the group is a regular “gentle presence for the curious” and his experience of the mission nights this year corresponds with recent statistics that 24 percent of non-Christian Australians were ‘warm’ towards Christianity.

“It is a ministry of simply being present to talk to those passing by on the street,” he said. “They don’t push faith, they are a gentle presence for the curious. Some people even take the step to come into the church to spend a little time in quiet prayer.


Last month the Catholic community of Waterloo, Rosebery and Redfern celebrated the 160th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Waterloo, at which Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said he trusted that “new adventures” in the parish, including in evangelisation and formation, would bear fruit.

The next mission night will be on 18 October from 7.30-9pm. Anyone wishing to join the team may email

With permission. This article first appeared on

International Session starting soon

Every summer in France, the Emmanuel Community welcomes thousands of pilgrims from all over the world to the small town of Paray-le-Monial. Jesus appeared to St Margaret Mary here and Paray is now regarded as the heart of the Emmanuel Community as Pierre Goursat regularly organised prayer groups for the Charismatic Renewal here.

This year the International session at Paray-le-Monial will be from 23-28 July 2019

If you need help you can contact Marie-Line (in English): +33 3 58 42 20 51

For more information and to register – see

Daughters of the King gather in Lysterfield!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the 27-28 October we held the Emmanuel women’s retreat in Lysterfield, Victoria. The theme was “Daughters of the King- Perhaps this is the moment for which we are created.” (Esther 4:14).  75 beautiful women were present (40 non-Emmanuel) and the talks focused on what being daughters of the king means, obstacles to knowing this and ways to live this out in authentic femininity. Jam packed with silent adoration, confession, joyful meals, Mass, a mercy night and praise, the retreat was evidently a highly fruitful, touching and healing weekend for many. Personally, I received a deeper passion to be a mother and start a family, and really desired for the first time to live deeply my femininity. I also felt encouraged to recognise my gifts and use them in my life, and was generally spiritually refreshed. I’m already looking forward to next year’s retreat!

Phoebe Lawrence

For more photos from this event check out our photo gallery HERE

Pentecost Retreat

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 It was a cold autumn day at St Joseph Conference Centre in Bringelly, South-West of Sydney. A group consisting of over 50 people from the Emmanuel community and guests grouped to prepare for Pentecost, appropriately themed ‘With Mary in the Upper Room.’

The theme was based on a bible passage (Acts 1:13-15) where Mary stood with the apostles during Pentecost:

When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers….

On the eve of Pentecost or the first day of the retreat, there was plenty of food. This is typical of any Emmanuel community-centred event where cake, fabulous company and opportunities to learn and reflect on our spiritual life was in abundance.

Mary MacGregor’s talk reminded us of Mary’s presence in key decisive moments – Incarnation, Cruxifixon and  Pentecost. John Collins talk on the ‘Charisms of the Holy Spirit’ was light-hearted and explored the many gifts of the Holy Spirit that is freely offered to all of us.

The rest of the first day set the scene and created a disposition of hope on that eve of Pentecost, where we waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

There was opportunity to learn more about the gift of tongues from Peter McGregor’s talk. For those who wished to know more about this gift, there was opportunity to learn from those who were using this gift.

When we were praying over each other, some received various spiritual gifts for the first time while others opened their hearts to invite the Holy Spirit to actively fill their lives. Some sensed definite things while others will wait to see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives in the coming weeks and months.

When I asked for feedback on day 1, a participant said “We are expecting great things of the coming of the Holy Spirit.”

Another participant was going through a tumultuous health journey and found the retreat ‘the icing on the cake.’ The words received when she was being prayed with was healing, and reminded her to praise the Lord, no matter what.

The final day was punctuated with a panel of testimonies, reminding the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, mass and how He continues to work.

It was a retreat that definitely celebrated one of the lesser talked about member of the Holy Trinity.

Finally, 2 first-time retreaters summed up the whole weekend beautifully:

“I’ve been to many retreats but this is one where I really felt the Holy Spirit.”

“The presence of the Holy Spirit was overwhelming. On Saturday night, I had the feeling that we were in the Upper Room, receiving the Holy Spirit. During the retreat I was able to pray for the first time, in tongues, from my heart.”