Catholic school students are 100 per cent ready to make this year's Project Compassion a huge success
Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who led the annual Caritas Australia Project Compassion liturgy and launch, encouraged students in attendance to commit themselves to give 100 per cent to supporting Project Compassion because it supported the poorest of the poor.
Archbishop Coleridge said the theme for this year's project compassion was hope, as it was for every year.
He said hope was the one thing human beings could not live without.
“There are plenty of parts of the world, perhaps even part of Australia, that seem absolutely hopeless," he said.
Archbishop Coleridge said for participants, Project Compassion was “a Lenten journey" where for six weeks they answered Jesus' invitation to open their hearts and hands with love and hope to the needs in the world.
“That's where the true meaning of hope comes from," he said.
“The more you gave the more you get back."
He later blessed student leaders from each school as they received a scroll of commissioning to be taken back to their school.
Following Mass, the students spilled out into the cathedral precinct for the popular “pancake flipping races", a morning tea provided by Rosies' and a musical performance from students at the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts.
Secondary students assembled in the Francis Rush Centre for a Just Action session where they heard from guest speakers who had benefited from Project Compassion.
Project Compassion runs through the six weeks of Lent and brings hundreds of thousands of Australians together in solidarity with the world's most vulnerable communities, to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.
This year focused on the theme “Give Lent 100%," which featured a story from a different country each week, explaining the issues faced in each country.
The stories highlight how Caritas Australia was working together with vulnerable people, helping them to develop their strengths and create change in their own communities.
Caritas head of mission, Josephite Sister Dr Jo Brady, said through Project Compassion students gained an awareness of the great need in the world.
Sr Brady said it was an opportunity for them to be able to respond to the very many needs that Caritas served throughout the world.
She said she found young people were very attuned to social justice issues and this was something that really touched them.
“Hopefully they will see all the good that is done around the world as the result of Project Compassion.
“It's reinforcing for them to meet people from Zimbabwe and Indonesia who have benefited from their giving and hear their stories first hand."
St Mary's College, Ipswich, student Rachel England said she could relate to one of the speakers during the Just Action session.
Rachel, who visited Cambodia on an immersion trip with the college in 2017, said she saw first-hand the experiences he spoke about.
“I could visualise what he was talking about and how lucky we are here to live in Australia.
“It's something we can take back with us to our school and share with other students."
Kevin Smith, from St Benedict's College, Mango Hill, said it was great to hear from the people who benefitted from the work of Caritas Australia.
“It's not about charity, it's justice," he said.
“Not just putting your hand in your pocket and grabbing some money, but actually doing something to give people less fortunate than us some hope," he said.
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