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History

Christophorus

The name Christophorus comes from an old legend whose hero, Orphorus, out of his strength and devotion, sought to serve the mightiest King there was – the Christ – and thus served humanity.

The Village Foundation

CHRISTOPHORUS HOUSE as it was then called was founded in 1974 as a voluntary association of members of the Society which works with Christ-oriented knowledge known as Anthroposophy (i.e. the wisdom of man) given by Dr Rudolf Steiner for the life and healing of humanity in this difficult age.

How Christophorus House was born

The founding impulse for Christophorus House arose in the heart of an Austrian woman called Helga Forster. Helga came to Australia by boat in 1948. Born and raised in the lovely Austrian mountains, Helga was well educated, loved skiing and playing the piano. Finding Australia a very different culture at that time, Helga struggled for 25 years to find her niche. She tried nursing and then worked in a legal practice. Her inner life was idealistic and permeated with the spiritual writings of Rudolf Steiner, Austrian philosopher and founder of Anthroposophy.

helga's dream

A fellow immigrant, who was also deeply involved with Anthroposophy, wrote of Helga’s dream, which ignited her will and heart to find a place of retirement for people in the closing years of life.

“One day when I met Helga, I sensed a difference in her and she seemed both solemn and excited. We sat down together and she said: “Amelie, I must tell you something very important. I have had a dream! I dreamed I came into a park. It was a dark night and very cold. Then I saw lying in front of me, the figure of an old man. He looked so desolate, so forlorn!

He did not speak, but I seemed to hear him whispering ‘help’! Now this image stands before me, I see him day and night and it has become clear to me that I have to do something to help build a home for old people.’ It was clear that this was much more than a dream and a good idea – it certainly was a vision”.
Amelie Hanbury-Sparrow – (early resident)

"You grow in sleep, and live your fuller life in your dreaming. For all your days are spent in thanksgiving for that which you have received in the stillness of the night." Kahlil Gibran

 

 

In the early 1970’s, there was little being offered to older people in the way of accommodation and care. How different is the picture today, 45 years on! One can scarcely compare any aspect of modern aged care, with the pioneering period, in which Christophorus House was founded.

Can one imagine a single person impulsively writing to the Governing Powers of today asking the question Helga asked in May, 1973? She wrote three letters – one to Mr. Hayden, the Social Security Minister, another to the Department of Treasury and a third to the Chief Secretary’s Department, seeking information on how to go about building a Retirement Village. Her legal experience equipped her well for the task of gaining precise knowledge of all necessary procedures. In this, she was greatly supported by Louis Tromp, who for many years, served as Treasurer and Advisor on financial matters, and who shared her enthusiasm and mission.

The capacity to communicate such a fiery mission as lived in Helga is the other side of the story. Single initiatives cannot survive without a community of support. The support came from Helga’s fellow members of the Anthroposophical Society in Sydney, who also recognised the growing community need for care and housing and a nourishing way of life for ageing people.

“An enormous impetus drove all its members to achieve the seemingly impossible goal, with no money and lots of difficulties! Whilst some worked on plans, others began to collect funds. Helga gave up her good job in order to dedicate herself completely to the task. Contributions came in, donations were made, and fund-raising parties were organized. I particularly remember those in the house of Dick and Beryl van Leer, which brought us all much closer together and raised quite a lot of money” said Amelie.

In 1981, the Village was incorporated as a Public Company Limited by Guarantee and is a “non-profit’ & ‘public benevolent organisation’. It is a member of the Aged Services Association, but has no affiliations with any church denomination, political or other group. The basic tenet is the freedom of the individual to follow his or her own lifestyle, in full recognition of the needs and rights of others.

Special attention has been paid to the design of the grounds and buildings. The units, both self care and hostel, were designed to be not only practical but of such artistic quality that living in their spaces and walking the grounds, helps to create an inner feeling of wellbeing.

The Village enclave, sheltered from the highway by the cottage and set well back down a gentle slope, thus minimising noise, consists of two types of accommodation: 23 Self Care units and a 24 unit Hostel.

The Self Care units are arranged in five small terraces amid park-like lawns and gardens which give breathing space and privacy and facing them is the flower bedecked Hostel. The Self Care units are one storey terrace cottages with front and back doors opening onto small verandas, most with its own personal garden area or access.

In the Hostel, each room has its own individual floor plan which enhances the resident’s feeling of identity. Corridors follow a flow course instead of straight lines, adding interest to moving about the interior. These are subtle details and much thought and artistic endeavour has gone into their design out of a deep understanding of the spiritual makeup of human beings as well as their physical needs.

In both Hostel rooms and Self Care units, there is a ‘Safety Link" bell system to the Hostel Supervisor in case of emergency need.