It’s appropriate that St Mary’s Gateshead was chosen to host the Project Compassion launch because this year, both St Mary’s and Caritas Australia (formerly Australian Catholic Relief) celebrate 50 years of service. While various celebrations are scheduled, the works of education and justice – in which both are engaged – continue daily.
Project Compassion is Caritas Australia’s annual fundraising and awareness-raising appeal that brings thousands of Australians in solidarity with the world's poor to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.
Project Compassion 2014 carries Jesus’ commitment to a life of abundance for all: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Reflecting on this, Pope Francis said: “Men and women of all times and all places desire a full and beautiful life... a life that is not threatened by death but that can mature and grow to its fullness.”
The Project Compassion launch will include a welcome to country with a traditional water and fire blessing and a Liturgy of the Word. Guest speakers are Marlene Spencer Nampitjinpa, Sarah Brown and Deanne Wano of Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyanjaky Tjuataku (WDNWPT) Aboriginal Corporation. The mission of WDNWPT is to minimise the extent to which kidney disease threatens the health, dignity and wellbeing of individuals as well as to preserve walytja or the connectedness of extended family.
Parish representatives, and students from each of the diocese’s 55 schools, will attend the launch and receive Project Compassion boxes to take to their communities as reminders of the urgent need to support the work of Caritas Australia.
The stories of the Project Compassion 2014 ambassadors reflect how lives have been changed by Caritas Australia's development programs. Aurora invited student leaders at St Mary’s to respond to the stories, which can be read in full on the Caritas Australia website, www.caritas.org.au.
Archie and 11 other people live in a 3x4 metre house in the Philippines. Most people in our school live in a house big enough to house them, their families and others! I have a 3 by 4 metre room just for my computer! We also have an income that will be able to support the household, whereas they live in a very insecure dwelling – too close to the river and too close to the garbage dump. When I think about my life in comparison, I realise how privileged I am and how lucky I am to be living here. Cameron Allan
My life differs greatly from Maristely’s in Brazil. I have always had access to clean water, food, education and a safe home. I have never lived in fear of gangs and drugs, I have never been subject to discrimination or violence. I think it’s important to hear stories like this so that everything is kept in perspective. We have the power to help, to provide food, water and other necessities to those who do not have what we have. Ruby Rose Betham
I am reminded how lucky I am to be part of an environment with every need just around the corner! Deng can live happily with his family in South Sudan because of the generosity of people who support Caritas. I find it amazing that Deng can find joy in his life. His wife, Aketch is an awesome woman! Jacob Askew
I am so grateful to be able to live in a safe environment, free of natural disasters. The story of Martina who lives in the Solomon Islands helped me realise how truly lucky I am. Lachlan Hyde
Nirangini did not have a safe and happy childhood. She and her mother and son were forced to leave when their hometown was taken over by people attacking Sri Lanka during the civil war. She did not have the opportunity to finish school or go to uni. Then Caritas helped her. She now lives a safe and happy life and can afford for her son to go to school. Caritas makes a difference in many lives! Kiera Kruk