With the season of Lent upon us, the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains has launched its annual Project Compassion fundraising campaign.
Parishioners, young people, schools representatives and social justice volunteers helped kick off the six-week campaign at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, Parramatta on Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020.
Project Compassion, an initiative of Caritas Australia, runs throughout the Lenten season raising funds for long-term development and emergency relief programs, which helps millions of people each year nationally and internationally.
Before the official launch, Mass commemorating Ash Wednesday at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, was celebrated by Very Revered Peter Williams, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.
The launch event begun with Aunty Margaret Farrell from the Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation in Emerton providing an Acknowledgement of Country.
Social Justice Coordinator Patrice Moriarty welcomed everyone to the launch and talked about the reciprocity of support between Caritas Australia’s partners overseas and the Australian people during times of need.
“Last year, Caritas Australia worked with 91 partners to support 65 long-term programs in 23 countries across the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, the Pacific and Australia, and we helped over 1.5 million people with your support and we do this together,” she said.
“This year’s Project Compassion theme is Go Further Together – we don’t just go forward and forget other people, it’s about every single person. Every person is God’s child, made in His image, and has blessed them with gifts, and Project Compassion is about valuing each and every person for the amazing gift that they are.
“Following on from the bushfires in Australia, Caritas Australia’s partners have sent their love, prayers and support, working in various ways to offer what they can to those affected by the fires.
“This outpouring of support from our partners shows the fraternity of our fellow brothers and sisters around the globe, and that we are there for each other in times of need,” she said
During the launch, Fr Peter praised the contributions of the people of the Diocese of Parramatta in previous fundraising efforts for Project Compassion.
“Reading the stories of the six faces of Project Compassion, they are quite inspirational and I realise that it is very important that we contribute outside of ourselves,” Fr Peter said.
“As I was saying during Mass tonight, Lent is not just about personal conversion, but it’s taking communal responsibility to bring change to the world in which we live and part of what we do is to be supportive particularly to Caritas’ Project Compassion appeal.
“One of the things I have noticed is that Parramatta is way up there in terms of Project Compassion giving, and that is because I really believe that the people of this Diocese, many of whom have come from overseas countries understand what it us to live in states of depravation and they’ve seen it for themselves.”
Patrice detailed the six stories that Project Compassion will be focussing on during the Lenten season, before introducing Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion international speaker Florida Rafer.
Florida is from the Philippines and is the Program Officer at Socio Pastoral Action Center Foundation Inc (SPACFI), a partner organisation of Caritas Australia. Florida works in solidarity with vulnerable indigenous communities in the Philippines and supports indigenous communities to become more self-reliant and self-sufficient in the face of discrimination and disadvantage.
Florida spoke about her organisation and its social justice programs in the Philippines and told the story of Shirley, one of the faces of Project Compassion.
“We believe that we are one human family, and have a responsibility to help each person achieve their full potential for the common good,” Florida said.
“This is one of the reasons Project Compassion 2020 takes the theme of community – Go Further Together.
“On behalf of the Philippine people, thank you for your generosity in helping the indigenous people in the Philippines, but also in other countries.”
To donate to Project Compassion, you can donate through Parish boxes and envelopes, by visiting www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion or calling 1800 024 413.