Pope’s encyclical inspires student leaders

By Wendy Shaw

Catholic students interested in social justice and making a positive difference in the world have gathered at leadership days around the state.

More than 230 primary and secondary students attended Just Leadership days at six events in October and November.

St Mary’s College, Hobart, and St Brendan-Shaw College, Devonport, were the venues for secondary students; while primary students met at St Thomas More’s Catholic School at Newstead, Stella Maris at Burnie and at St Aloysius Catholic College, Huntingfield, and Holy Rosary, Claremont.

The events were organised by Catholic Education Tasmania (CET) with support from four Catholic aid organisations: Caritas Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Mission and the Archbishop of Hobart’s Samaritan Fund.

CET’s education officer for Catholic identity and evangelisation, Leanne Prichard, was delighted with the response to the days.

“These days provide a wonderful opportunity to unite student leaders from different schools, to learn more about leadership, Catholic social teaching, servant leadership and the great work of Catholic agencies that work under Catholic social teaching principles,” Mrs Prichard said.

“It is an opportunity for students from our schools to meet and interact with like-minded students from other Catholic schools, others than on sporting fields, and it is a chance for them to step out of their comfort zones and demonstrate, learn and refine leadership skills.”

The program included an introduction to social justice with a focus on Pope Francis’s encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.

Fratelli Tutti tells us that we are all brothers and sisters,” Mrs Prichard said. “The message for young people is for them to recognise that everyone is their brother and sister and the challenge is for them to see that this includes the most vulnerable.

“The key message is they are not too young to make a difference and also that the schools have an integral part to play in supporting these charities, not only in fundraising but also in awareness raising as well.”

Students learn about the impacts of poverty and homelessness, the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, and a lack of sanitation and education for many people in the world.

The diocesan director for Catholic Mission, Deacon Michael Hangan, who presented some sessions at the Just Leadership days, warmly welcomed the initiative.

“We have students with leadership skills and a greater understanding of Catholic Church teaching on social justice, honed towards the four charities: Caritas Australia, Vinnies, Catholic Mission and the Archbishop’s Samaritan Fund,” he said.

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