Lockdowns no barrier to communities striving to ‘Be More’ with Project Compassion 2021

17 Feb 21

Today we launch Project Compassion 2021, our annual appeal, which runs for the six weeks of Lent.

Project Compassion is one of Australia’s longest running appeals, now in its 56th year, and the iconic donation boxes are a fixture in parishes and schools across the country.

Through Project Compassion, Australians have raised millions of dollars for marginalized communities worldwide.

At a time of such upheaval and challenge across the globe, possibly the greatest world-wide challenges since the inception of Project Compassion, Caritas Australia encourages all Australians to ‘Be More’ this year to help vulnerable communities.

“Project Compassion gives us the opportunity to show compassion for the poor in a special way, not just through material giving, but through spiritual giving,” said Bishop Terry Brady, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

“We encourage all Australians to support their sisters and brothers across the world this Project Compassion, so that we can continue to work with communities during these challenging times to strengthen resilience and build a stronger, more equal future for all,” said Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia.

“The theme ‘Be More’ is inspired by the words of St Oscar Romero, to ‘aspire not to have more, but to be more’, and challenges us to stand in solidarity with people around the world who continue to face the injustice of poverty.”

Kirsty Robertson, CEO Caritas Australia

“We invite all who hold the Lenten season dear to their hearts to join us in our journey of hope, love and of course, compassion. Our journey towards a better, more just world where all may thrive,” said Ms Robertson.

Working in new ways with local partners

Developing the stories for this year’s Project Compassion proved challenging with international travel restrictions, but our international staff rose to the occasion, working with our team in Sydney to learn how to take high-quality video footage themselves in the field.

It’s always been important to us to ensure that local voices are heard and prioritised, and working remotely with our local partners to collect the stories for Project Compassion has offered an opportunity for our staff in Australia to build even stronger relationships with our international partners.

Indonesia Zoom
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Caritas Australia staff on a Zoom call with local partners in Indonesia working to develop Arsad’s story, which features in Week Four of Project Compassion 2021. Photo: Caritas Australia

Celebrating Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday under national lockdowns

In Australia, the traditional celebrations Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday look a little different to previous years, but communities are forging ahead to raise funds for the appeal.

Bathurst

Students at St Philomena’s School in Bathurst were able to enjoy pancakes on Tuesday, which were generously donated by the Year Two and Six students. 

Shrove Tuesday Celebration Archbishop Patrick O'regan Thomas More College
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Shrove Tuesday celebration with Archbishop Patrick O'Regan at Thomas More College, Adelaide.

Adelaide

Thomas More College in Adelaide were served up pancakes made by Archbishop Patrick O'Regan, who showed that he could “Be More” at the school launch of Project Compassion

Bendigo

Our Diocesan Coordinator for Sandhurst Diocese, Kerry Stone, has organised the popular Shrove Tuesday pancake event at Hargreaves Mall every year since 1999.

“Our pancake chefs [usually] produce over a thousand free pancakes and a variety of school choirs entertain the crowd,” says Kerry. “It’s a day when I feel so proud to be part of Caritas and to share our transformative message with the public.”

This year, state-wide lockdowns meant that the event was cancelled, but the community is looking forward to supporting Project Compassion in a variety of ways once restrictions are lifted.

Kerry In Hargreaves Mall 2
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Diocesan Coordinator, Kerry Stone, at an empty mall in Bendigo on Shrove Tuesday - for the first time in over 20 years. Photo: Kerry Stone.

Brisbane

In Brisbane, Archbishop Coleridge held Project Compassion Mass to a reduced crowd at St Stephen’s Cathedral due to COVID-19 restrictions, but reminded the small gathering that “Project Compassion is a way of doing our God-given, human duty”. 

Bring our work overseas into your parish this Lent

Technology has also opened up a world of possibilities for parishes to connect with the development programs that Project Compassion makes possible. This year, for the first time, parishioners are able to connect directly with our overseas program staff via ‘Virtual Immersions’.

The 75 minute ‘Virtual Immersions’ connect Australian parishes to our work through prayer, reflection and dialogue.

Parishioners can register for a 75 minute evening session here

To donate to Project Compassion, organize your own fundraiser or get more information visit lent.caritas.org.au or call 1800 024 413.

Your gift will help uplift the most marginalised and vulnerable members of society. A brighter and more just future for all can start today.