The Rostrevor College graduate saw a man pass away on his first day at the hospice where he was given the task of feeding and shaving the sick and frail, most of whom had no family.
“It was hard, very emotional but at the same time it was eye-opening and allowed me to adopt a more positive perspective in my own life,” Patrick said.
“To be there in the final moments of someone’s life, you really get to see how that person is.”
Patrick said Calcutta was definitely the highlight of his month-long journey through India, in November-December 2018, which marked 30 years since the first Rostrevor College pilgrimage to the subcontinent.
“Calcutta is a really busy city with millions of people but you can see the work that Mother Teresa has done helps so many people,” he said.
Seven staff accompanied 15 Year 11 and 12 students who were assigned various volunteer jobs with Mother Teresa’s Sisters. Patrick said the group would attend Mass at the Motherhouse in Calcutta early in the morning before heading off to volunteer in schools, orphanages and hospitals.
Patrick said the teachers on the pilgrimage were a great support, even though they sometimes struggled just as much as the students with some of the things they saw.
Social Justice Prefect at Rostrevor in 2018, Patrick is no stranger to helping those in need. For the past two years he has been a leader at Edmund Rice camps for disadvantaged children, another experience which he said had opened his eyes to what some people had to endure.
While he described the camps as “great fun” with lots of recreational activities, he had been “shocked” to hear the stories of some children who confided in him.
He also spent a lot of time helping out at Rostrevor’s Build a Bridge program which provides a place for young newly-arrived refugees to “hang out” on a Friday night.
Every week, he convened a social justice meeting to plan campaigns and activities, including fundraising and promoting awareness of mental health issues, the homeless and the underprivileged.
Patrick said some of his friends would quiz him on why he was always so busy with social justice activities. “I never saw it like that, I really enjoyed it and found it quite fulfilling,” he said.
“And I still found time to play lots of sport and socialise.”
He also managed to fit in study during Year 12, receiving a merit in Integrated Learning (Religious Studies). He plans to study psychology but, not surprisingly, he hasn’t ruled out social work or a related discipline. And Patrick hopes to participate in the next pilgrimage to India.
Patrick said his passion for social justice was inspired by his grandparents Fred and Ann Moller who are active members of the Parkside Catholic community and his own parents who had always stressed the importance of being “a good person”. Rostrevor was another factor, he said, because the college encouraged everyone to be a “man for others’.Jump to next article