For more than 15 years, Laura Neeson owned a successful PR agency. She worked with big fashion, beauty and lifestyle labels but often felt she had to push her faith to the side to fit in.
It was on a life-changing pilgrimage to Medjugorje, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that the mother-of-two “encountered God.”
“It felt like I was sitting in the foyer of Heaven. I just felt so loved,” Laura recounted.
“For the first time in my life, it felt like my life had meaning and I had a purpose. I realised in that moment that I want to do something in my life that helps someone.”
Laura Neeson with Kindy students Pearl and Hugo at Galilee Bondi. Photo: Kitty Beale
From there, Laura decided to focus on being a full-time mum, and started a prayer group at her children’s school St Charles’ Catholic Primary School Waverley with 12 other women. “I just felt so nudged – that is how the Holy Spirit works,” Laura said. “My faith had exploded.”
Laura taught the women in the prayer group how to pray the Rosary and around this time became interested in becoming a Family Educator at Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS).
She said she first heard about the role through a friend and then saw a meme on social media saying: “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
She saw this as a sign to follow her heart. That’s how she met Anna Novak, principal at Galilee Catholic Primary School Bondi, who hired her on the spot.
That was nearly two years ago.
ROLE OF A FAMILY EDUCATOR
“It’s more than a role, it’s a mission,” Laura said. “My role is to nourish and cultivate the faith life of the families that come to our school, to connect the parish community together, and help them find their place.
“My main goal is to help parents find their heart connection with God, to help them connect with their faith that’s more personal than sitting in a Church. If I can make one person find that connection, then my role is worth it.
Laura Neeson pictured in the prayer garden at Galilee Bondi. Photo: Kitty Beale
“Qualities needed in a Family Educator are: Deep, genuine faith; a willingness to serve; a real ‘yes’ attitude; and a passion to evangelise.”
Ms Novak said: “Laura has built a wonderful connection with the children, parents and wider community, enabling her to strengthen and nurture relationships.”
Some of Laura’s initiatives at the school have included:
- Group SPaR (short for Stop, Pray and Reflect) sessions, which address a different topic each week,
- Making meals for St Canice’s Kitchen with other parents, and
- Weekly parish playgroup.
Laura said she cherishes the one-on-one moments she has with others in her role as a Family Educator.
“You can be Christ’s hand and voice with someone who is going through something,” Laura said.
“I feel I have helped the community to understand that faith doesn’t have to be compartmentalised; it looks like outreach, like smiling at someone, and helping a parent going through something.”
By: SYLVANA EL-KHAZEN