Project Compassion 2021: Recognise your existing gifts then give, receive and share, Archbishop Costelloe encourages students

25 Feb 2021

By Amanda Murthy

Students from more than 35 Primary and Secondary Catholic Schools across the Archdiocese of Perth gathered physically and virtually at Bateman’s Corpus Christi College on Shrove Tuesday, on 16 February, to learn about how they can get involved with the good works of Caritas Australia as Project Compassion launched their annual Lenten fundraiser.

For the next six weeks, Australians will learn more about how they can practise this year’s theme ‘Be more,’ through the eyes of a community leader facing incredible challenges, with stories from Bangladesh, Solomon Islands, Tanzania and Indonesia.

In 2020, nearly 900 parishes and more than 1000 schools helped to raise $7.91 million through Project Compassion.

The launch began with a Mass celebrated by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, and concelebrated by Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation, Fr Vincent Glynn, Salvatorian Regional Superior Fr George Kolodziej SDS, Bateman Parish Priest Fr Phong Nguyen, Bateman Assistant Parish Priest Fr Simeon San with Caritas Australia Social & Ecological Justice Animator WA/SA Deacon Paul Reid assisting.

Other guests present included representatives from the Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Deputy Executive Director Wayne Bull, Director of Leadership and Employee Services Dr Tony Curry and Director of Religious Education Dr Chris Cotter. Catholic Institute of Western Australia (CIWA) Director Dr Chris Hackett and CIWA Lecturer Nathan Leber were also in attendance.

In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe recounted the Gospel of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and on another occasion, when He fed 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and just a few fish. 

I imagine you can all see now just why this Gospel story is so suitable for a Mass in which we launch Project Compassion, because Project Compassion is all about doing exactly the same things that Jesus did – feeding the hungry, caring for those in need, bringing hope to people have lost hope, and bringing courage to those who are overwhelmed or afraid,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“Today’s Gospel of Jesus feeding of those enormous crowds with very little food, teaches us that Jesus worked the miracle, but He relied on his disciples to give to the people what He wants to offer them.

“…….presuming that the disciples do, in fact, give Jesus everything they have, we begin to understand that when you give Jesus everything you have – He can take what might seem to be very little and work miracles with it,” he added.

Archbishop Costelloe went on to say that this dynamic, the process of giving to the Lord, receiving back from the Lord, and then sharing what we have with everyone else, should be the pattern of the Christian life.

“Just as it was through the hands of the disciples that the overwhelming generosity and goodness of God was made available to those in need, so that same generosity and goodness will reach into the lives of others if we are prepared to be the people whom Jesus sends to feed those who are hungry, to comfort those who are lonely, to give hope to those who are hopeless, and to give love and acceptance to those who feel abandoned,” Archbishop Costelloe stated.

“This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. 

“As the season of Lent begins tomorrow, and our minds turn to the needs of others, may we all find the courage to respond to the invitation from Jesus to work with Him for the well-being, the encouragement and the comfort of His people,” Archbishop Costelloe concluded.

At the conclusion of Mass, students were divided into small groups, for a discussion and brain-storming workshop session. Students took the time to analyse the real-life story of Project Compassion Week one recipient, Jamila from Bangladesh. The group discussed questions such as ‘What are the key challenges faced by those living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh,’ ‘Which Catholic Social Teaching principles do you see shown in Jamila’s story,’ and ‘What actions can you and your school take with awareness and fundraising for Caritas to empower refugees.’

Students tuning in from online and those present in person, then took the time to ask questions to Caritas Humanitarian Program Coordinator (Asia/Africa) Bernice Sarpong who connected via the zoom platform.

During his address, Deacon Reid spoke about the patron Saint of Caritas Australia, Oscar Romero, who ‘gave a voice to the voiceless, who spoke out passionately and relentlessly against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture of the people he served at the time.

“His words aspire not to have more but to be more is adopted as our theme for this year’s Project Compassion.”

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