Project Compassion Launch

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Project Compassion Launch
13 February 2013

There is something of a strange feel for me today as we come to yet another launch of Project Compassion, this time for 2013. I have participated in all but one of the previous launches in my time as Archbishop, and on all earlier occasions I was very closely involved with Caritas Australia, which is the body within the Church which sponsors this initiative each Lent. In fact for the last nine years, I had the honour of being the Chairman of Caritas Australia.

That was a position I relinquished in May last year. I was sorry that my association came to an end, but that is how life goes, everything comes to an end. But my love and support for the organisation still remains as strong, although I am not as familiar with the initiatives around Project Compassion this year as in the past. What I do know, and what I am taking credit for, is that last year, my last year, Caritas Australia through Project Compassion, raised the wonderful sum of $10.X million dollars, the first time that the $10m target had been reached. We had been inching in that direction for a number of years, and last year I became a “10m dollar man”

I think I can still take the liberty of thanking all those who supported Project Compassion so generously last year, and here in Tasmania, the amount also increased, to the point where we raised $151,00 out of a total of $470,000 contributed overall to Caritas by Tasmanians in 1012.   I wish to thank all those in parishes, schools and other agencies who have been so generous. I also thank the Caritas Director for the Archdiocese, Pat O’Halloran, for his assistance for yet another year.

The theme of Project Compassion for 2013 is “Open the doors into the future.”  The phrase comes from one of the recent document written by Pope Benedict. The general theme of the document is that of hope, and it is hope that we are able to give to those who eventually are the recipients of the amounts which are raised during this important season of the year.

Pope Benedict says that all serious and upright human conduct is hope in action. He goes on to say that hope is important when we strive to achieve our own goals, be they lesser or greater, or whether we try to bring about a brighter and more humane world, so as to “open doors into the future.”
It is to bring hope into the lives of others that we undertake initiatives such as Project Compassion. The face of Project Compassion for this year, that of the 12 year old girl from Mozambique which you see on the posters and on the Project Compassion box, is called Ditosa. She and her younger sister, Fique, aged 7 years, lives in village of Matuba, in the very south of Mozambique, close to South Africa, with her grandmother and her aunt. Both of them are seriously ill with HIV and they are too ill to work.

The community is extremely poor and until recently there was no water supply close by, and now sewerage system. A water pump has now been installed, and this the establishment of the Matuba children’s Centre, funded by Caritas Australia, Ditosa and the other children are able to learn about computers, carpentry and handicrafts; they are able to grow vegetables which they also can sell, and they have learned the basics about health, nutrition and hygiene. They are also receiving medical attention to antiretroviral drugs to help manage HIV/AIDS.

The parable which has just been read for us, the parable of the Good Samaritan, is one of the best known parables that Jesus ever used. Perhaps only the parable of the Prodigal Son is better known. The occasion when Jesus chose to use this parable was in answer to the question “And who is my neighbour?”

First one traveller, and then a second came along and saw the person lying on the road. They did nothing to help. It is like people today who come across a car accident, and just drive around the spot and continue on their journey. The third person did stop and he was a Samaritan, one who was considered less likely to offer assistance. Over the centuries, a deep animosity had developed between the Jews and the Samaritans. There are some similar examples in today’s world as well.

But difference of race and status did not matter to this person. Help was what was needed, and it was given, all the help that was required. We might ask the question “and who is my neighbour?” Generally we think of neighbours as those who live close to us, in the same street and the same suburb. But Jesus is saying that our neighbour is every person who is in need. It does not matter who they are, or where they live. If they are in need, then they are our neighbours.

We support Caritas Australia because we want to assist our neighbour, like 12 year old Ditosa. I am sure you will make a big effort in your schools and parishes to do so again, as you have done in the past.