O this is just a short note to say thank you so much everyone for all your prayers and good wishes for my renewal with Caritas Australia. Your prayers were definitely heard! It was an amazing experience!
I’ll try to speak to as many of you as much as possible over the summer months, so I’m sure we’ll have lots of opportunities to catch up but I just wanted to let you know the kinds of things I got up to out there!
Well – like you – I was fully focused on the Lenten appeal (which is called Project Compassion in Aus) with six focus stories – one for each week of Lent (which you can see in this short film below).
I spoke at Masses every weekend in parishes in Brisbane, Rockhampton and Toowoomba– only finishing two days before I got back on the plane!
I was also lucky enough to visit quite a few schools too. I’ve always loved that – so it was great to do it again! The assembly and workshop for primary schools all focused on our partners’ work with communities in the Philippines and I now know more about pig farming than I ever thought I’d know or need to know! We had a LOT of fun during all those sessions!
During my mini road trip within Rockhampton diocese (visting 9 schools in a week and speaking at the Cathedral at the weekend) I came across a class at St Anthony’s primary (see above) who had all taken part in the Climate Coalition ‘Show the love’ campaign in February. Their class teacher had come across the materials on the CAFOD website and each student showed me their green hearts! Fab! All these visits were made possible by the Rockhampton Catholic Education Service who arranged everything for me and I’m so grateful to all the schools who welcomed me that week. So generous and so kind.
My favourite memories though were around the launches. The two I attended were both big occasions at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Toowoomba and St Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane. Both Cathedrals were packed out on the day – full of supporters – all dedicated to ‘end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity’ through their support for Project Compassion during Lent. The respective Bishops (Bishop Robert McGuckin in Toowoomba and the Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge) led both services and the Catholic Education Service were just supportive in encouraging school involvement and giving us fantastic guidance and practical hands-on help on the day. What stars! We had mural painting, pancake making, pancake races….Wow! You should have seen it all! It was brilliant!
During my stay I also visited Head Office in Sydney twice to share something of the Community Participation Coordinator role and our work here in the Portsmouth diocese.
Even now I can’t quite believe I got to meet, live and work with such lovely people throughout my entire time! I was very spoiled! Special mention should go to my super supportive Aussie boss – Joe, John (his trusty right hand man) and the lovely Kerry (our Global Justice Educator) who were all incredibly kind and such good fun to work with. And I LOVED staying with the Sisters of St Joseph and the Sacred Heart (Sister Moya and Sister Stella). O my goodness! Friends for life! Family really!
Coming back to Aldershot and seeing all your events, talks, and visits has been very humbling. Thank you all for really pulling out the stops this Lent for all our partners overseas and for responding so generously to our East Africa Crisis Appeal.
And thank you to Jo and Paul for covering for me too and keeping on top of everything whilst I was away. Thank you all!