1800 students from St John XXIII Primary School and St Mark’s Catholic College, Stanhope Gardens launched Project Compassion 2019 on Wednesday 6 March on behalf of the 83 schools and 47 parishes in the Diocese of Parramatta.
A vastly multicultural and multi-age community of learners took up the theme of Project Compassion 2019 – Give Lent 100% Hope.
The St John XXIII learning community names one of its qualities and values as collaborating for an innovative and just learning environment.
Caritas Australia First Australians and Pacific Programs Manager Stephanie Lalor shared with the Year 12 students her firsthand experience of meeting Peter, a Solomon Islands student, and his fellow students who were about their age, and who also attended the Aligegeo Catholic Secondary School in the Lau region of Malaita Island, in the Solomon Islands.
In meeting with the students of the Solomon Islands, Stephanie explained that she asked them to name what was happening, and they all shared that there was no source of clean water at the school each day.
Students had to walk long distances and carry buckets of water to have water for the school for the day. Peter found this task especially difficult as he has a disability and needs the support of a stick to walk.
Stephanie shared with the Year 12 students that the students at Peter’s School in the Solomon Islands partnered with Caritas to resource and design a safe water supply, which included digging trenches for the water system and carrying pipes and equipment.
The Year 12 students then showed their own capacity to be collaborative and innovative in leading and directing the liturgy to launch Project Compassion. Not only this, but they will animate various activities of awareness raising and fundraising to support Project Compassion during this Season of Lent.
Sr Louise McKeogh, Social Justice Coordinator and Caritas Diocesan Director, Diocese of Parramatta, shared how inspired she always is by the support and animation of Project Compassion that takes place with in the schools and parishes of the diocese.
“I know how important and essential this is in bringing about change in people’s lives. I know that meeting the directors and staff of various Caritas programs and seeing first hand the work of Caritas myself has changed me. I have been fortunate enough to meet many people who benefit and work with Caritas in this important Gospel mission,” Sr Louise said.
“We collaborate and innovate together for a just fair and sustainable world. Being with the students as they launched of project compassion gave the Caritas staff a sense of Hope and as Pope Francis says, ‘the future has a name and its name is hope.'”
Our thanks from Caritas Australia on behalf of people like Peter in the Solomon Islands goes to St John XXIII learning community principal Dr Peter Webster, Director of Evangelisation and Religious Education Des Fitzgerald, the students, teachers, parents and community of St John XXIII and of all our Parramatta schools and parishes for their support and animation of Project Compassion 2019.