Adelaide-based teacher David Smith remembers his first Project Compassion at age five as if it was yesterday.
As a child David and his family were parishioners of Henley Beach in South Australia, where Project Compassion had its earliest beginnings.
One of his first childhood memories was of the Project Compassion box on his teacher’s desk at primary school.
Today he is the director of Salesian identity and ethos programs at Xavier College, where he inspires students to generously support the annual fundraising appeal.
“The importance of helping others through Project Compassion is something I suppose made a real impression on me from an early age,” Mr Smith said. “We were encouraged to make a sacrifice, back then one cent could buy quite a lot.”
“It has been part of our lives, part of my own life and my family’s life for 50 years.
“My wife Margie and I have been married for nearly 33 years, we have eight children and every year through Lent of course it’s been part of our family tradition.”
Caritas Australia, the Church’s international aid and development agency, has thanked supporters for their generosity this Lenten season.
In its 50 year history Project Compassion has empowered millions of the world’s poorest people with the opportunity to learn, grow and create change.
The Caritas Australia head of mission, Sr Anne McGuire, Project Compassion is an opportunity to engage with God in the mission of justice, which is even more poignant in this Year of Mercy.
“In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to set our ‘default’ at Mercy,” said Sr McGuire. “It could be said that during Lent, when we are invited to more intentional through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, that one of the favoured ‘default settings’ for Australian Catholics is Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion.
“Project Compassion is a means to channel our ‘small acts of kindness’ towards women, children and men most vulnerable to extreme poverty and injustice, who are rich in the eyes of Jesus, whose life and compassion inspires Caritas Australia.”
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