By Olivia Bunter
It’s an organisation that needs a strong leader at the helm and new Director, Marietta Russo is accepting the challenge with an open and eager mind.
Pledging her commitment to Catholic Outreach, Marietta remarked that the goals of the agency are well worth working towards.
“It’s a very fundamental kind of help for people – just ordinary people helping ordinary people. It’s one of the mottos that this organisation has had, so I think the goals are worth pursuing.”
For 29 years, Marietta has worked as a secondary English teacher in Catholic education. In her most recent role she dedicated her time to working closely with her peers guiding the next generation at John XXIII College.
To her, teaching has a very strong pastoral care element and she explained to The Record that it was a strong reason for her to remain in Catholic Education.
“There is a strong sense of community,” she said. “Catering for diverse needs and talents of individuals – that underpinned my reasons for staying in Catholic Education for so long.”
Although a slight deviation from her teaching career, she said was excited for the challenge.
Catholic Outreach is a community based organisation that was initially established in 1990 in the Perth Archdiocese to promote, develop and implement parish based pastoral care programs for local communities, working with parishes, coordinators and volunteers.
Its goal aims to provide services that will assist parishes and support pastoral care programs.
Four weeks into the role, Marietta admitted that she was still understanding the strategic direction and tasks of the organisation, before going on to talk about future plans to hold evening information sessions about potential new services.
She linked her passion for community connecting with the Golden Rule – a philosophy she stands by wholeheartedly.
“I also consider what is often labelled the Golden Rule, a concept appearing in all the world’s major religions and outlined in the Gospel of Matthew. ‘Do for others what you want them to do for you.’
How significant is that all faiths, billions of people, are linked by this common maxim?”
Her vision for the future of Catholic Outreach is focused on expanding current programs within the parishes, trying to reach a younger demographic and focus on developing additional programs in new parishes that focus on the experience of immigrants and the aged.
“Apart from continuing the good works established already, building a strong sense of community and belonging is our focus.
“Today, with so much going on throughout the world, both positive and negative, we should be more connected than ever before; no one should feel isolated, despairing or neglected.”
Over the past 19 years, Peter McMinn has built his own legacy at Catholic Outreach, something his successor understands and appreciates.
“I feel a huge sense of responsibility – there are significant shoes to fill! My predecessor, Peter McMinn developed so many good works and great relationships which have shaped the agency over the past 20 years.”
Marietta also spoke about the fact that in today’s modern world, often because of technology, which has provided us with so much that is good, there is a strong impression, or maybe, an illusion of connectedness.
“But, I believe, it can be quite superficial. There are people who slip through the cracks, surrounded by so many people but quite isolated.
“Or despite the number of services that are offered in Australia, some people’s needs at any particular time just don’t fit the brief,” she said.