The theme for this year’s Project Compassion campaign is Give Lent 100% and that is what we have experienced in the parishes and schools of the Diocese of Parramatta.
It has been wonderful to journey through the diocese and hear of the ways our agencies, parishes and schools stand in solidarity with the work of Caritas.
They are standing with us in our vision “of a just and fair world, a world at balance at peace and free of poverty. A world which the church in Australia helps build. Where all human beings can live in dignity and Communities are architects of their own future.”
It has been inspiring to see the variety of local and creative ways people have supported Project Compassion.
From busking in the school playgrounds during breaks, water challenges, Pancake Days, Morning Teas, Jersey Days, Dollar days, sharing the work of Caritas through speaking at parishes, or hosting our international speaker, and quietly completing the needed administration tasks.
For each of these known and unknown actions for justice, we are truly grateful for the collaboration. What such creative endeavours of fun and joy that directly support the serious work of justice and integral human development for all.
There were a few fun logistical challenges along the way such as how does one get a life size Project Compassion box into a small car to transport to a launch?
There have been many highlights for the Project Compassion campaign this year. I have experienced many touching stories of generosity, which indicate our community’s strong commitment to justice.
One was the response of a parishioner to support a water system to a community in a developing country.
I saw a spontaneous act of generosity from a primary school student, who after hearing directly of the work of Caritas from our international speaker wanted to help the people in the village of Zimbabwe.
There are experiences of senior primary students so taken and engaged with the story and work of Project Compassion being shared by our international speaker from Zimbabwe that time ran out with never ending questions of curiosity and compassion.
We also shared meaningful conversation over lunch with secondary school students who were sharing their work as social justice leaders in their school.
One day recently, as I was setting up a Caritas display for Project Compassion at a school, a parent who was dropping off their children commented on the display and enthusiastically asked for resources for their work in Special Religious Education – such was their commitment to spreading the work of Caritas.
For the Diocese of Paramatta, Caritas is a Gospel and Good News story.
As Pope Francis affirms, the future does have a name and its name is hope.
Sr Louise McKeogh FMA is the Social Justice Coordinator and Caritas Diocesan Director of the Diocese of Parramatta.