Students and staff members from 53 Catholic primary, secondary and composite schools across the Dioceses of Bunbury, Geraldton and the Archdiocese of Perth gathered at Corpus Christi College, or joined online, for the schools launch of Project Compassion on Shrove Tuesday.
While the launch is a regular feature in Caritas Australia’s annual calendar, 2021 marks the first year that Project Compassion has been launched online, with students and staff from as far as St Paul’s Primary School in Karratha taking up the opportunity to join virtually.
Deacon Paul Reid, Caritas Australia Social and Ecological Justice Animator, introduced the theme of the 2021 Project Compassion appeal:
“A number of schools represented here today… have Romero house in their house system, in honour of this great saint,”
“As Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, he [St Oscar Romero] gave a voice to the voiceless,” Deacon Reid said.
“He spoke out passionately and relentlessly against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture of his people, and he was murdered by the military government in 1980,”
“His words, ‘aspire not to have more, but to be more’, were so powerful then, and even more so now,”
Video: Servite College’s Project Compassion Ambassadors share their learning from the 2021 launch
The launch began with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony conducted by Simon Forrest, before Mass celebrated by The Most Reverend Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth. The events of the day also included engaging presentations by guests including Kirsty Robertson and Bernice Sarpong, wrapping up with a pancake breakfast to commemorate Shrove Tuesday.
Activities during the event included a video case study showing the impact of Caritas’ work on the ground through the story of Jamila, a Rohingya woman living in a Bangladesh refugee camp after fleeing conflict in Myanmar, who has accessed Caritas’ support including emergency food, shelter and counselling.
Students at Corpus Christi College and online had the chance to participate in a Q&A session, and broke into groups for discussion on Catholic Social Teaching principles.
CEWA Deputy Executive Director, Wayne Bull, also joined staff and students at the launch, and spoke about the partnership between Catholic schools and Caritas.
“It is a privilege for us as Catholic school communities to work closely with Caritas in making positive change and spending some of our time and efforts on practical projects that give witness to our Gospel values of justice and compassion,” he said.
“Each year students and staff undertake some great initiatives to raise funds for Caritas and awareness of the issues that Caritas works to address,”
Mr Bull thanked schools for taking the dignity of others seriously, acknowledging efforts to support the vital work of Caritas.
Project Compassion is an annual appeal during Lent in support of Caritas Australia, who work with local communities in Australia and internationally, listening to concerns, assessing needs and working with partners on locally-led development programs.