The dream of Bethany began long before it was established in Concord. Several of the founding Sisters from different congregations had been meeting regularly at the FMM Spirituality Centre at Point Piper, sharing their experiences and expertise with alternative modes and styles of healing.
In April 2002, Helen Clarke rsc, with the full, enthusiastic support of the ‘founding practitioners’ Marie Carson rsj, Frances Carver op, Pat Holligan rgs, Marimil Lobregat fmm, Tess Formosa rsj, Colleen Maron rsm, Pat Biddle sgs, Carmel Clancy pbvm, Fiona McKee olsh, Monica Sparks sgs and others who joined in from 10 different religious congregations, officially opened Bethany Holistic Health Centre in a rented little cottage attached to the parish in Concord. Their vision was to support those who were financially disadvantaged. This included women who were victims of abuse, women prisoners, pensioners and members of Religious Congregations. The Leaders of the Congregations the Sisters belonged to attended the official opening and blessing of the premises. They each generously donated the sum of $5,000 to assist with the initial funding for this new and unique healing venture.
An excerpt from a letter written by Helen Clarke rsc captures her original vision:
“My dream for Bethany was that every person who came through our door would be treated with the dignity, respect and loving care that Jesus received from Martha and Mary when they took him into their home at Bethany. I pray that that dream will continue to be realized.”
Lay practitioners soon joined the original team of masseuses, spiritual directors and psychologists. Everyone applied themselves to the services offered to their utmost capabilities. After three years in Concord, and at the invitation of the Catholic Women’s League to rent its former Hostel in Strathfield, Bethany transferred to its Marian Court complex. Here it is more convenient for clients to avail themselves of Bethany’s services. With this transfer came a change in governance structure: to facilitate the continuance of its mission, Bethany became an incorporated association.
Bethany’s first three years at Strathfield had a good share of trials and challenge, but the committee and practitioners persevered, sustained with prayerful hope in their hearts. Slowly, their perseverance and faith were rewarded and soon a light shone upon Bethany’s path. By now, podiatry, physiotherapy and naturopathy enhanced the list of healing services. Divine Providence surprised us with ‘friends of Bethany’, who offered support to raise extra funds for Bethany’s outreach programmes. For the first time Bethany was financially able to stand on its own and offer generous services and donations to needy projects, like the Good Grief appeal that was set up to help the victims of the fires in Victoria.
Worthy of mention are the volunteers who actively supported the Bethany staff and their clients from the very beginning of the centre. In particular Bernadette Abdilla pddm has been the heart and soul of the centre – a faithful companion to all at Bethany, with receptionist and hospitality support that continues to this day. Also, worthy of mention is the generous support given over many years to Bethany by Kathy and David Lumby
Today Bethany is a community of practitioners who are committed to excellence and holistic health care. We have seven different recognised and accredited health disciplines operating out of our centre: counselling, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology, speech pathology, spiritual direction, sports and remedial massage. The face of Bethany has changed and expanded over the years but our commitment to Sr Helen’s original dream is as lively as it has ever been. We continue to move forward with new visions and relevant projects to answer the needs of today and to continue Bethany’s Mission:
We commit ourselves to those who seek
health-care and personal growth
in a safe and peaceful environment.