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Promoting compassion in our community


After nearly seven months travelling around Australia with his young family in a camper trailer, Dan Ryan has returned eager to be even more involved in parish life, jumping at the opportunity to promote the annual Project Compassion appeal.

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Arriving back in Adelaide in late January, Dan was quick to put up his hand and volunteer alongside Mary Procter and Hannah Smailes to be a Caritas ambassador in the Aberfoyle Park parish. Like other ambassadors throughout the Archdiocese, Dan helped with the launch of the appeal at the parish level on February 27 and will be promoting Project Compassion throughout Lent.

Currently working at St Martin de Porres School as a music teacher, Dan said his family’s recent ‘adventure’ reinforced to him the importance of Caritas’ work with the vulnerable in the community.

“Our family was so blessed to have this chance to go away and see the country together,” he told The Southern Cross.

“We got to see a wide variety of locations and living standards – from luxury to poverty.

“Caritas is on the frontline and trying to help people around the world who are really struggling. I remember seeing the videos last year of the vulnerable people who are supported by Caritas and it was a good reminder that the appeal is about much more than just having a Project Compassion box on your bench.”

Dan said being a Caritas ambassador aligned with the values he was taught at school.

“I went to Sacred Heart College which has the Marist charism of simplicity, family spirit and the love of work. These values are in line with the mission of Project Compassion and Caritas,” he said.

The father to four young boys with wife Kiara, who is one of the Archdiocese’s lay members on the Plenary Council, Dan said the camping holiday was a great way to reconnect as a family and with God.

Leaving in July last year they headed for the Northern Territory for two months, travelling across to northern Queensland for the next four months.

It was a carefree existence with most of the weekdays spent in national parks sleeping under the stars, before heading to a town for the Saturday parkrun and Sunday Mass at the local church, where Dan would offer to play his guitar if no music was planned.

“I got to play in the underground church in Coober Pedy which was really cool and we would also do our Friday morning Praise and Worship session in the camper trailer,” he said.

“We lived life at a much slower pace and we didn’t put so much pressure on ourselves to do things every day.

“There was also that stillness to have a constant dialogue with God. It was great to be in that space that is his creation and be so in touch with the natural side of the world.

“After almost seven months of not having to be anywhere on any day – I never even put shoes on – I got back with a real fire to try and help the Church and help the community and get the boys involved too.

“As a parent you want to model what you want your kids to learn… we volunteer and they need to see it’s not just lip service and we actually want to get in there and get our hands dirty.”

For more information about Project Compassion go to


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