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Project Compassion 2015: ‘Food for Life’


Catholic Outlook March 2015: Project Compassion 3
Caritas guests Eric and Ma Narayan and Sr Louise McKeogh FMA were welcomed by the OLMC school community, including Director of Mission Claire Thomas.

Originally published in Catholic Outlook March 2015

By Elizabeth Scully

Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion appeal is an essential part of the Lenten season in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.

On Shrove Tuesday, Eric and Ma Narayan from Fiji joined locals in launching this vital fundraising appeal to support the Church’s work with disadvantaged people and communities across the globe.

Catholic Outlook March 2015: Project Compassion
At Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown, Eric and Ma spoke about the powerful impact of Caritas Australia’s work in their community.

The theme of the 2015 Project Compassion Appeal is ‘Food for Life’, a focus that is particularly relevant in Eric and Ma’s practical story of how Caritas Australia changed their lives.

When Eric and Ma enrolled in a Married Couples Course at the Tutu Rural Training Centre 25 years ago, they couldn’t anticipate how it would change the direction of their lives, and set them on a path of growth for life.

Supported by Caritas Australia, Tutu has given Eric and Ma agricultural and personal training that enabled them to achieve things they could only have dreamt about.

Together, over 25 years, they’ve built a house, established a sustainable, productive farm, and proudly raised and tertiary-educated six healthy children.

“The program at Tutu has truly enriched us and opened a new pathway for us where we have been able to prosper safely in life,” Eric said.

Eric and Ma were guests of honour at the Sydney launch of Project Compassion joining Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, host Barry O’Farrell MP and Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan on 16 February 2015 at NSW Parliament House.

The Catholic Diocese of Parramatta was well represented at this event with Diocesan Social Justice Coordinator Sr Louise McKeogh FMA hosting a delegation including student leaders from John Paul II College and parishioner Ken Morrissey from Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, who is a founding member of the original Project Compassion committee.

On Shrove Tuesday, Eric and Ma started the day with a visit to Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta. Director of Mission Claire Thomas and student leaders led an engaging assembly with a strong focus on practical action to support Project Compassion and an address from Eric and Ma.

Catholic Outlook March 2015: Project Compassion 1
At Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, student leaders led an engaging assembly with a strong focus on practical action to support Project Compassion. 

The students particularly enjoyed hearing about how, after more than 25 years of marriage, the couple still write each other a love letter every day.

The diocesan launch of Project Compassion was held on Shrove Tuesday at Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown. The striking simplicity of the school chapel was a fitting location to welcome Eric and Ma for a moving liturgy led by Religious Education Coordinator Jim Prendergast.

Those present sang a rousing rendition of the classic hymn, One Bread, One Body, with acoustic guitar accompaniment from a talented senior student. Eric and Ma spoke about the powerful impact of Caritas Australia’s work in their community.

After the liturgy, a crowd gathered outside the chapel as students rushed to greet Eric and Ma, including several Fijian Australian students. One young man whose family had originally come from the same village in Fiji, was greeted with a big hug from Ma.

In the spirit of this year’s theme, ‘Food for Life’, school leaders barbequed generous quantities of tasty pancakes, which were dished up with lashings of ice cream.

The people of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, particularly school students, always give generously to Project Compassion. However, drastic Federal Government cuts of more than $11 billion from Australia’s overseas aid budget mean that some Caritas programs are under threat.

Now more than ever, let’s dig deep in support of justice for some of the world’s poorest people.

To make a donation to Project Compassion click here 

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