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Push to get more youth involved with Caritas

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Planning is underway to form a Caritas Australia Youth Sub-Committee which will be tasked with encouraging more young people to be involved with the work of the Catholic agency for international aid and development.

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Holly Roberts, 22 and Lachlan Brannan, 20, who are both members of the Caritas Diocesan Committee, said it was important for young people like themselves to be aware of the work undertaken by Caritas Australia and how it relates to Catholic social teachings.

They are currently calling for nominations from young people who are interested in joining them on the sub-committee.

“We wanted to start this because we noticed there was a gap in engagement with Caritas with young people.

“You’re quite engaged when you are at school through Project Compassion but when you leave school unless you are part of a parish or connected in other ways, that engagement drops off,” Holly explained.

She said it wasn’t until she participated in a three-day Caritas Global Justice course in Adelaide last year that fully understood what the organisation does and how its work fits so well with the values of young people.

“We learnt about the organisation and how it is different from other aid organisations, especially with their focus on Catholic social justice teaching and the ‘strengths-based’ approach.

“It definitely fits in with what we believe as young people.”

Lachlan also attended the course and said Caritas Australia’s work made even more sense after a visit to Timor Leste in October.

“It was more of an experience of immersion than going to build houses and doing jobs for them which is what people expected us to say we’d done. Instead I was learning what people there do to support themselves and how Caritas uses donations to assist local programs in communities in Timor Leste.

“The main thing I got out of attending the global justice course and the Timor Leste immersion was the Catholic social teachings – seeing it all in action was the most inspiring thing for me,” he said.

Holly added she was impressed by Caritas’ strengths-based approach which saw it empowering people to build their own communities.

“That has been one of the biggest things that has drawn me to Caritas as a young person; the human dignity and making sure that all human beings are appreciated and given the same opportunities to thrive no matter their situation.”

Holly and Lachlan anticipate the sub-committee will comprise about eight people aged 18-30. It will meet bimonthly and be a point of contact for young people in the Archdiocese who want to get involved in Caritas’ work or simply learn more about what Caritas does.

Young people would be able to submit their details to be included on a database so they could receive emails about when Caritas Australia events were happening.

“The sub-committee of the Caritas Diocesan Committee will be in charge of putting on events, getting people to speak at parishes to raise awareness and helping out with other events that Caritas put on,” Holly said.

The first event to be staged by the sub-committee will be an exhibition of photographs and videos showing Caritas’ work in Timor Leste. This will also serve to promote the Project Compassion appeal which will be launched later this month.

Caritas Australia diocesan director Angela Hart commended the move to get more young supporting the work of the organisation.

“There is no doubt that young people of today are passionate about social justice issues and creating a better world for all.

“While at school they are engaged with Caritas Australia through Project Compassion. Through the establishment of this new sub-committee they will be able to continue to help Caritas Australia end poverty, promote justice and uphold the dignity of all people in the world,” she said.

For more information, to nominate for the sub-committee, or be placed on the database, contact Holly Roberts at holly.roberts@cesa.catholic.edu.au

 

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