Social Justice at St Mary's
Matthew Talbot Hostel, Woolloomooloo
For nine years senior students, accompanied by a teacher, have been Thursday afternoon volunteers in the dining room at the Matt Talbot Hostel in Woollomooloo. The work involves tasks such as clearing plates, cups, and cutlery, and cleaning tables and chairs at the conclusion of the meal.
The Hostel provides free breakfasts and lunches, plus an inexpensive dinner, 365 days a year to men who are living rough or who are homeless.
Cathedral students are highly regarded by the men, and even more so by the adult volunteers, whose task is made so much easier with the extra hands we provide. Thursday is the day we feel really popular: we’re warmly welcomed and thanked.
In addition, Cathedral students have been staffing the Matt Talbot canteen for a number of years. This work takes place on Monday and Friday afternoons. Student volunteers work with a teacher on Monday afternoons and with Br Peter Hancock on Friday afternoons. The cafeteria offers a variety of inexpensive goods to the hostel’s residents; the coffees are particularly popular. Students working at the cafeteria find the work rewarding and enlightening: they see that there is little appreciable difference between the men of Matt Talbot Hostel and their own family and friends, but for altered circumstances and reduced opportunities. It’s a valuable lesson.
Cathedral College also traditionally run a collection drive for the Hostel at Christmas. These items, comprising necessities and some small luxuries, were included in a package presented to the Hostel’s patrons along with their Christmas dinner. The College’s students were extremely generous, donating baskets and baskets full of goods.
In years past the Lenten Appeal has raised substantial sums for Caritas, for Christian Brothers’ charities in Africa, and for students from Papua New Guinea seeking to travel to Australia for the World Youth Day celebrations. In 2009 students at the College again demonstrated their commitment to helping people less fortunate than themselves by raising over $10 000 for Edmund Rice Camps, a charity project that offers disadvantaged children the opportunity to engage in outdoor activities.
The fundraising was coordinated by the prefects and involved a number of cleverly marketed events, backed up by morning collections in homerooms.
CanTeen is a charity which supports young people (aged 12-24) who have cancer. The National Bandanna Day is their major annual fundraising event. The bandanna acts as a symbol of solidarity, as they are frequently worn by patients undergoing chemotherapy. Year 10 students at Cathedral threw themselves into the event, selling bandannas at school over a number of days. The response from the College community was fantastic, with $1600 being raised by the students, and with the bright colours of the bandannas augmenting the students’ uniforms on the 29th October. Thanks to those Year 10 students who organised the College’s response.
Edmund Rice Centre
The College is very closely aligned with the work of the Edmund Rice Centre.
The Edmund Rice Centre is involved in a range of projects and activities across the four areas of its operation in research, community education, advocacy and networking. The Centre's objectives are to:
- Conduct and encourage research into the causes of poverty and inequity in society, especially with regard to youth and Indigenous Australians.
- Promote teaching that supports awareness, understanding and action in the areas of justice and community issues.
- Promote experiential learning activities through organised and reflective immersion programs in Australia and internationally.
- Encourage the development of skills in advocacy and social action.
- Facilitate liaison and networking opportunities amongst agencies involved in social justice and community education activities.
It is hoped that by providing a pathway for our students to link up with the work of The Edmund Rice Centre they will become more aware of the injustices in our society. It is also hoped that as they move out into the wider world they will use these experiences to help those in our society who are unable to help themselves.