15 June 2023
Natalie Dixon-Monu felt like she’d just gotten her life back when God called her to ordination.
Growing up in a violent Christian home, she despaired at the falseness of the church where her family worshipped.
But the teenager was drawn to the words of the Bible and increasingly glimpsed the God she thought she had lost sight of.
Her conviction that there was a better way to be a Christian left her estranged from some family members and without many of her childhood friends.
Reawakened to faith, Ms Dixon-Monu became a youth worker and joined the Uniting Church where she was encouraged to act on her appetite for social justice.
She was more than surprised to find herself being called for discernment, and in her early 20s became a priest.
Her first placements were among people many would have given up on.
But the Reverend Dixon-Monu’s faith – and the experiences of her youth – gave her the foothold to minister to them with compassion and joy.
In her current role, Ms Dixon-Monu coordinates the Boroondara Community Outreach, a ministry supporting people with a mental health condition, or who are socially isolated, to live with dignity in the community.
The work includes providing them with good food and fellowship, the very things the COVID pandemic restrictions seemed designed to stymie.
It seemed all the city’s hungry and isolated would collect at the ministry’s door during those times, and Ms Dixon-Monu and her volunteers would cook between 600 and 800 meals a week for them.
Unsure how to support all of them on a lean budget, some critics suggested the ministry should limit who it served, but Ms Dixon-Monu refused.
“It really felt like the feeding of the 5000. I felt it was our responsibility to feed them; these are our people … And the money for it just rolled in, somehow,” she said.
On the Everyday Saints podcast, Ms Dixon-Monu shares how she has helped create a place of hope and care that goes far beyond food.
Part of that means rejecting the idea that some members of the community need fixing, she tells host, Jenan Taylor.
“People are mysteries to enjoy,” Ms Dixon-Monu says. “They are not problems to solve.”
Her lens on the world is an inquiry into what matters, and how to live a good life.
To hear Natalie-Dixon-Monu’s story on Spotify, see here.
To listen to more Everyday Saints podcasts, see here.
Everyday Saints is a podcast from The Melbourne Anglican which features the faith stories of those from Melbourne and beyond.