Teachers from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Wentworthville went on a spiritual retreat with a difference where they learnt first hand about the challenges of homelessness, mental illness, addiction and prostitution.
Assistant principal Olimpia Pirovic said the group walked the streets of Kings Cross and were reminded of the scripture ‘We are created in the image of God’.
“We reflected on the implications of this statement and were challenged to see Christ in every person, particularly the vulnerable in our community,” she said.
The teachers visited St Canice’s Parish in Elizabeth Bay and The Wayside Chapel in Potts Point and the focus of our day was to learn of the ways these two organisations reach out to the members of their community and provide the support.
These two inner city areas provide support to vulnerable people who are homeless, people with mental health problems, people with addictions, people who engage in prostitution and people escaping domestic violence.
A startling fact was learning that these issues are no longer just the preserve of the inner city but are far reaching into our suburbs.
While there are many services to support these people in the city, the same services are not available in the suburbs where the need is greater.
“Learning individual stories and the statistics behind them had a profound impact on us all,” Olimpia said.
“Sometimes we struggle to see Christ in others because we are afraid or unable to see beyond a particular behaviour.
“This can be difficult to find in our misbehaving six year old let alone a homeless person who doesn’t look like the rest of us.”
In the recent school newsletter, Olimpia shared with parents about the legacy of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and her mantra: ‘Never see a need without doing something about it.’
“These are challenging words to live by. In order to see and understand a need calls us to listen, actually stop and listen when we ask ‘How are you?’ or ‘Do you need some help?’
“We can’t solve the big problems facing all in our society, but we can alleviate some problems by committing to make a difference.”
Olimpia said parents can make a difference by giving our undivided attention to our child, an elderly family member or neighbour reaching out to someone who is lonely.
Donating new toothbrushes, socks, underwear or towels to charity organisations like St Vincent De Paul or the Wayside Chapel can also be a way of helping.
“I call all members of our community to reach out and seek Christ in those we encounter,” she said.
With thanks to CEDP.