There is a need to increase awareness in parishes around the issue of domestic
violence, particularly within Pasifika families.

Auckland Catholic Social Services psychotherapist Sr Cabrini Makasiale, who is running the Living without Violence, Pasika community programme, said Catholic parishes are falling way behind the Methodist churches in this area.

CSS with the Auckland Justice and Peace Commission ran a one day workshop for Catholic parish representatives at the St Columba Centre on April 1.

The representatives were expected to be able to run a workshop in their own parishes.

At the St Columba Centre workshop, Sr Cabrini said cultures should be continually evangelised.

“Always refer to the Gospel,” she advised. “In most cultures, love is the same. There are different cultural ways to express it, but we all agree on what is loving, what is life-giving and what is not.”

Sr Cabrini told workshop participants that before they are able to run the programme, they should first know themselves and their anxieties.

“Be real, not perfect,” she said. “You know why? PI’s, especially, Tongans can sniff you out. So, you have got to stand in front of your group humble, true and real.”

She said the Pacific Island culture is very prescriptive. “You do as you are told. But slowly, this is beginning to change.”

Sr Cabrini said one sign of healing in women who had been subjected to violence is when they start talking about the problem and getting “their voice”.

“Once they get a voice, they begin to know who they are,” she said. She also talked about understanding anger and how to make men and women realise that it (anger) can be controlled.

Judith Lunny, social welfare and antipoverty convenor of the Justice and Peace Commission, expressed hope that more priests would support the programme.

“Unless we get their support, it is difficult to get the programme to the pews,” she said. Ms Lunny said priests should help educate and raise awareness.

“It’s not wrong (for victims) to ask for advice (against domestic violence). And if you’ve got resources in the parishes that people can go to, why not support it?” she said. “What we want to do is to make the resources readily available to people.”

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