Powerful young voices call for just society

By Jordan Grantham, 8 November 2017
Winners of the Bishop's Social Justice Essay competition with Sue Walsh and Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

The second annual Social Justice Day, held on 18 October, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, gathered students from Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and other schools to learn about social justice issues and have fun making new friends.

Students were challenged by Pope Francis’ call to build an inclusive society in an essay competition. Sue Walsh, Director of System Learning at Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, presented awards to prize winners and to students whose essays were high commended.

View images from Social Justice Day below or click here.


Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv was present to launch the 2017-18 Social Justice Statement of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference with the gathered students. Bishop Vincent is also the Chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, which produced the official statement, ‘Everyone’s Business: Developing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy’.

The report details how “Pope Francis has called for an economic system that places men and women at the very centre – one that meets the needs of all people and is just and sustainable. He denounces economic structures that take a purely utilitarian view of human beings, treating them as mere elements of production, to be thrown away if they are not seen as useful or productive.

RELATED: Social Justice Statement 2017–2018

RELATED: Social Justice in the Diocese of Parramatta

Shenna Sambat from Catherine McAuley College, Westmead won the essay competition and shared her insights into the issue of inclusion. The articulate Catholic young lady spoke with confidence, clarity and intelligence.

“It’s a great joy for me to be with you here this morning and listen to the wonderful speech by Shenna, which is representative of the thinking around this issue,” Bishop Vincent said.

“You are young people who are passionate about the cause of inclusion, justice and solidarity. Shanna’s words about our engagement with the vulnerable people on the fringes of society, enables us to create that inclusive, brotherly economy that Jesus called us to be,” Bishop Vincent said.

A workshop on the content of the statement helped students brainstorm ideas about what an inclusive society means.

The essay competition winner, Shenna, told Catholic Outlook how it surprised her that people ignore the marginalised.

“It is us young people who should be approaching and helping the elderly, not they, who have to come to us,” Shenna said.

Sr Louise McKeogh, the Diocese of Parramatta Social Justice Coordinator commented on the quality, reflection and contribution of the students to the essay competition and of their meaningful engagement in the justice day.

Congratulations to Shenna Sambat of Catherine McAuley College, Westmead, Bao Qi Deng of Xavier College and Mikayla Morgan of McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains for coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Social Justice Essay Competition overall.



Tiana Anderson – Gilroy Catholic College

Alyssandra Bessounian – St John Paul II Catholic College

Chloe Boucher – Marian Catholic College

Jerica Cabanit – St Andrews College

Miquella Grima – Caroline Chisholm College

Helena O’Shea – Emmaus Catholic College


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