Media and Communications Office
In a crowded lecture theatre at Melbourne’s Cardinal Knox Centre yesterday, Archbishop Denis Hart officially launched the annual Lenten appeal ‘Project Compassion’, a fundraising initiative of Caritas Australia for more than 50 years.
In his welcome, Deacon Jim Curtain, diocesan director of Caritas in Melbourne, outlined the goals of Caritas, which he described as ‘a vital work of the church, a work that has the aims of ending poverty, promoting justice and upholding dignity.’
In introducing the Archbishop, Jim acknowledged him as ‘a long term and enthusiastic supporter of the work of Caritas’, sentiments echoed by the Archbishop himself, who described Project Compassion appeals as ‘an important means by which the Australian church has shown its solidarity with those in need around the world, providing funds for development and emergency aid.’
Archbishop Hart continued, ‘This year’s campaign For a Just Future relates to the Year of Youth. Pope Francis encourages us to challenge our young people when he writes ‘Cultivate with love the seeds of goodness, beauty and truth that God sows in every new generation.’ Many of the stories of Caritas’ work are of young people overcoming hardship and making a difference in their communities. As we all reach out to young people in our community this year we can encourage them to think of their contemporaries around the world, open their hearts to those struggling materially, and work to ‘make poverty history’.’
The Archbishop welcomed and encouraged the scores of students present from many Catholic schools across Melbourne, praying that many of them would be inspired to take the loving work of Caritas into their own families and school communities.
As he imparted his blessing and declared Project Compassion ‘open’ for 2018, His Grace affirmed, ‘I warmly commend the Project Compassion Appeal 2018 to you all and your communities.’
In addition to introducing the Archbishop, Jim Curtain also welcomed Caritas’ special international guest, Janak Sharma from Nepal, where as well as heading up the Children and Youth program that Caritas supports, he is also involved with working for the human rights of minority groups within Nepal.
Janak Sharma gave a presentation to the gathering, describing the work of Caritas Nepal and its mission amongst young people, a mission he described as one of empowerment for the many young people who work tirelessly in their own communities, with Caritas-inspired youth co-ops running a vast number of programs targeting the underprivileged, the disabled and the impoverished.
As well as addressing the launch of Project Compassion, Janak also sat down to discuss for us the various challenges facing his people, including the controversial issue of child marriage in Nepal.