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Project Compassion 2021 launched on Valentine’s weekend, encourages the nation to ‘Be More’

By Amanda Murthy

The importance of connecting and being in communion with community was the message for the launch of Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion in Catholic parishes last weekend.

Five Masses were held at St Mary’s Cathedral over the weekend, with the Sunday, 14 February 9am Mass celebrated by Father Garner Vergara Jr and assisted by Caritas Australia Social & Ecological Justice Animator WA/SA Deacon Paul Reid.

Some parishioners stand with Dcn Reid at the conclusion of the 9am Mass on 14 February, held at St Mary’s Cathedral, as Caritas Australia launched their Project Compassion in parishes, with the theme ‘Be More.’ Photo: Amanda Murthy.

Project Compassion is Caritas Australia's annual Lenten fundraising and awareness-raising appeal. Millions of Australians come together in solidarity with the world's poor to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.

The local organisation helps over 1.5 million people in Australia and overseas every year - walking with those in crisis. This year, Project Compassion is built around the theme to ‘Be More.’ It is taken from the prayer of Saint Oscar Romero (Caritas’ patron Saint) to “Aspire not to have more, but to be more.”

In his homily for the Mass, Dcn Reid, encouraged those present to be like Jesus and the leper, both characters, reflected in the Gospel reading of the day.

“One of the most challenging aspects of sickness or disability can be the isolation that it brings,” Dcn Reid said.

“When we are ill, or our body grows weak we struggle to connect with others. People can become housebound because of their physical condition - Certain forms of illness can be more isolating than others.”

After Mass, parishioners were encouraged to pick up donation boxes, that they could collect for Project Compassion throughout the Lenten period, to help those in need. Photo: Amanda Murthy.

Dcn Reid explained that in Jesus’ time, leprosy was the most isolating form of illness, and lepers were forced to live apart from their family, their friends, and the community to which they belonged.

However, the leper in the Gospel reading, did something unconventional when he pleaded to Jesus to heal him.

In response to the leper’s daring approach, Dcn Reid explained, Jesus did something just as unconventional. He reached out his hand and touched the leper.

“Both Jesus and the leper have something to say to us about steps we can take to connect with people, to break out of our isolation,” Dcn Reid cited.

Project Compassion, Caritas Australia’s annual Lenten fundraising and awareness-raising appeal this year, was launched in Archdiocesan parishes on 13 and 14 February, at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Amanda Murthy.

“There can come a time when, like the leper, we need to take our courage in our own hands and, against the conventional expectation, to head out in some bold direction. It was desperation that drove the leper to seek out Jesus.

“Sometimes for us too, it can be our desperation that finally gets us going, gets us to connect with that person who matters to us,” he added.

With the launch coinciding with the start of Lent every year, Dcn Reid encouraged the community present to take up the lentern call to fast, pray and give alms.

“In giving alms let’s remember the actions of Jesus in today’s gospel reading about choosing compassion - even when it costs us,” Dcn Reid.

“He shows us how to reflect God’s love in our everyday actions and relationships. The impact of the pandemic means that entire communities are in desperate need of support – now, more than ever.

In his homily, Deacon Paul Reid reminded those present to remember the actions of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading about choosing compassion – even when it costs us, when giving alms this lent. He said this during the launch of Project Compassion in Archdiocesan parishes, on 14 February at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Amanda Murthy.

“Today, I’m hoping you can help so that (through our work at Caritas Australia), people around the world can overcome enormous challenges and be lifted out of poverty,” he concluded.

In a recent letter, Caritas Australia Chief Executive Officer Kirsty Robertson encouraged all Australians to support the cause so that Caritas can continue to strengthen resilience and build a stronger, more equal future for all.

“The theme ‘Be More’ challenges us to stand in solidarity with people around the world who continue to face the injustice of poverty,” she said.

“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.”

To make an online donation for Project Compassion 2021, go to