The surprise contact through our website resulted in a visit from Dalal Smiley, director of Wellsprings for Women, Melbourne, Australia, on January 10, 2022. She was on a visit to her son in Texas accompanied by her husband and granddaughter. The Arbor Community hosted the occasion and invited our sisters in San Antonio to join them in welcoming the distinguished visitors.
We had very interesting conversations about this Presentation-sponsored ministry begun by the Presentation Sisters in Australia in 1994. Wellsprings for Women opened its doors one day per week as a drop-in centre offering a friendly environment for women to meet in a non-threatening, homely venue. As the number of women attending the centre grew, a holistic program was developed addressing the physical, emotional, spiritual, recreational, educational and skill-based needs of the women. These programs were offered to encourage and empower women to grow in self-esteem and learn about the wide variety of opportunities available to them in the community. The large number of refugee and asylum seeker families who have moved into the Dandenong area, a suburb of Melbourne, call for new and creative responses to a wide variety of needs, and the center has evolved to provide programs to meet these needs. From that beginning the programs have gradually increased to the point where the center is now open five days a week and caters for approximately 300 women weekly. Wellsprings has fully qualified staff and a number of well-trained volunteers.
We were excited to hear how the Presentation Sisters and the Brigidines Sisters in Australia have collaborated in setting up a separate entity “Kildare Ministries” to manage all their sponsored ministries. This happened in 2014 and they have agreed to support them for ten years. Hopefully, by then these ministries will be sustainable. This was of particular interest to us because the unit has engaged Plante Moran to help ensure that our sponsored ministries are sustainable and autonomous as they carry forth the Presentation charism and mission into the future. Nano’s charism is truly alive at Wellsprings for Women!
Arbor Community, San Antonio, Texas