The John Franklin Christmas Lunch came into being as the result of a warm association which developed over time between a young man, John Franklin, and Fr John Sullivan, the parish priest of St Patrick’s Catholic Church at Sutherland. (Note: Rev John Sullivan retired in 2007 and now holds the office of Founding Father of J.F.C.L.).
John Franklin lived his life on the streets of the Shire and became a regular visitor to the St Patrick’s presbytery, welcoming the offer of a cuppa, a sandwich and most importantly, companionship and the opportunity to have a chat. Over time, John Franklin told Fr John the extraordinary details of the ‘ups and downs’ of his life.
As Christmas 2000 was approaching, John Franklin voiced his sadness at the loneliness that people such as himself experienced particularly during the Christmas season.
|Fr John relayed the conversation to the parishioners of St Pat’s but sadly before we, as a community, had the opportunity to address John Franklin’s disappointments, he died under tragic circumstances. John was only 37 years old.
Following John Franklin’s death, Fr John promoted the idea of the Christmas Day lunch, where an open invitation would be extended to anyone wishing to celebrate Christmas Day with others - the reaction from the parishioners was overwhelming. St Patrick’s community was quickly joined by members of the St John’s Anglican Church congregation and a committee was formed.
The event was duly named the “John Franklin Christmas Lunch” in memory of John Franklin and representative of all persons disadvantaged for one reason or another, or for those who simply do not have someone with whom to share Christmas.