kitchen table conversations

Mike Cassidy with Fr Tony Percy

Mike Cassidy with Fr Tony Percy

The current plight of refugees and migrants is very much front and centre at the moment.

At a global level, World Refugee Day was celebrated on June 20, while the church will celebrate Migrant and Refugee week this year between August 22 and August 28. It will incorporate the 102nd World Day of Migrants

A number of social justice enthusiasts from within the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn continue to take up the fight as they get behind a number of programs which are designed to bring about a change in regard to the refugee and asylum seeker issue.

One such program is called Kitchen Table Conversations which was launched at the Rheinberger Centre, Yarralumla, on Tuesday night, July 19 at a meeting hosted by Mike Cassidy, the Chair of the Archdiocesan Social Justice Commission.

Lending heavily from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference publication, For Those Who’ve Come Across The Seas ‘Kitchen Table Conversations’ is a tangible, non threatening and appropriate resource, which is the work of previous less formal group meetings.

According to the latest May 2016 report, Kitchen Table Conversations are “a method of engaging the community that enables small groups of people to enjoyably exchange ideas through semi-structured, respectful conversations.

Sister Jane Keogh was one of several people in attendance at the meeting. She maintains regular contact with detainees on Manus Island and was able to share the realities of what the men there face on a day to day basis.

Sr Jane is leading a project called Manus Lives Matter, which send parcels and phone top ups to enable these isolated men to communicate with their families. Already a number of parishes in the Archdiocese support this project.

On the night, Sr Jane gave some detailed accounts of the ordeals the men go through, particularly whilst they are separated from family.

Speaking very much from personal experience of engaging in conversation, Sr Jane stated:

“They (refugees) just need to know that someone cares,” she said.

Towards the end of the evening, the Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Fr Tony Percy, was given a copy of the latest Kitchen Table Conversations report.

In accepting the document, Fr Percy addressed the meeting and used Vincent Long, Australia’s most recently installed Bishop of Parramatta as an example of a refugee who has settled and gone on to good things.

Fr Percy spoke about dignity of the human person, the common good, the principle of subsidiarity and he also encouraged all social justice enthusiasts to continue being heard by writing letters to the editor among other means of communication.

For more information about Kitchen Table Conversations visit:

And to find out more about Sr Jane’s efforts go to

For online access to the ‘Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us’ publication distributed by the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office go to