By Emilie Ng, The Catholic Leader
THE young men washing clothes for the nation’s homeless have a new helper – a van purchased with donations from Brisbane Catholic schools.
Orange Sky Laundry founders Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett revealed this month that the new van would be called “Cathy”, in honour of all Catholic schools in Brisbane.
Almost 100 Catholic schools in Brisbane raised $81,000 to help the founders of Australia’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless set up a new van. Initiated by the Brisbane Archdiocesan Catholic Primary Principals’ Association, schools sold sweet and savoury treats, and organised car washes and other fundraising projects to pay for the van.
“Cathy” is the eighth van the former St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace students have launched since starting their venture in 2014.
The charity has gained the founders worldwide attention, and most recently, the title of Young Australians of the Year.
Year 5 student at St Eugene College, Burpengary, Jake Moss, who attended the launch, said he wanted to support Orange Sky Laundry “so the world could be a better place”.
Mr Patchett said the van had already been serving homeless in Logan, Ipswich, West End and Springfield.
“(The van) is able to help 20 to 25 more people every single week,” he said.
“Cathy will provide 80 to 100 washes all across Brisbane in the months to come.”
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge blessed the new van at the launch.
He said the Orange Sky Laundry initiative matched the efforts Pope Francis was making to change the lives of homeless people in Rome.
In the past few months, Pope Francis has had showers fitted, organised a regular barber and given homeless people free entry into the Vatican museums.
Archbishop Coleridge said the “imagination and generosity” of the mobile laundry vans were a fitting way to celebrate the Year of Mercy.
“Pope Francis has asked Catholics right around the world to celebrate a special Year of Mercy and one of the things he said is, ‘Mercy is a verb’,” he said.
“Mercy isn’t just what you feel or think, mercy is what you do.
“The power of what Nic and Lucas are doing with Orange Sky Laundry is precisely that it’s incredibly simple but it’s very powerful.
“All it takes is the kind of imagination and generosity that you see in a thing like Orange Sky Laundry so I really congratulate Lucas and Nic on what they have done and what they are doing.”