The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.
We do not judge our progress based on how the wealthiest are doing. Instead, we evaluate our greatness by observing how the most vulnerable are fairing. And then, whenever we see deficiencies, we are called to respond in faith.
– Pope Francis
This week Rachel Parsons, Year 12, our Social Justice Captain, invites us into awareness of just what we mean by social justice and introduces her vision for the year:
“Social justice is what faces you in the morning. It is awakening in a house with adequate water supply, cooking facilities and sanitation. It is the ability to nourish your children and send them to school where their education not only equips them for employment but reinforces their knowledge and understanding of their cultural inheritance. It is the prospect of genuine employment and good health: a life of choices and opportunity, free from discrimination.” Mick Dodson, Annual Report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 1993.
Although said with Aboriginal Australians in mind this statement continues to hold true. Social justice is striving towards a more equal and balanced access to opportunities for all.
Last year alone, we saw millions displaced and made refugees in the Syrian crisis and beyond, 14.8% (46.7 million people) in the US, and 2.5 million people or 13.9% of Australians living below the internationally recognised poverty line and we’ve seen the emergence of a new social justice issue – climate justice. However, since 2000 almost a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Last year following the crisis in Syria we saw an outpouring of international sympathy with commitments by a number of governments to increase their intake of Syrian refugees and the Sustainable Development Goals were launched for 2016. As a school community we raised a significant amount for the baby milk project in Zambia and the Tan Phu Women’s Shelter, and raised much needed food supplies for the House of Welcome. As of August 2015 Bahati saw the completion of an operating theatre for their hospital (a project that we supported in 2013) and we saw the installation of solar panels atop the roof of our gym, saving approximately 123 tonnes of CO2 annually. But away from the monetary values, as a school community we wrote letters to MPs and hopefully gained a greater understanding of the plight of those beyond our Loreto bubble.
As Social Justice Captain this year I hope we might be able to utilise our voices as youths and the uncommon privilege we hold as students of Loreto. In my role I hope to broaden your understanding of the world beyond Loreto with acts of social justice becoming more ubiquitous in our community. This term specifically our monetary and spiritual focus will be Project Compassion which will be launched next week with pancakes in the Quad next Tuesday recess. My focus for awareness this term will be gender equality in all sectors of our community.” – Rachel Parsons
As Christians each one of us is called to respond to the cry of ‘the poor’, whether that be refugees and asylum seekers, our Indigenous brothers and sisters, those suffering economic and political oppression, the cry of the earth, or any one of the many faces of suffering and injustice we see. It is not an option, but is an integral part of our Christian life, and indeed of our humanity. We invite you to join us, so that together we may all – students, staff, families and the wider Loreto community, make a difference in our world.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Dean of Mission