Sunday the Church celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, acknowledging the sacred in the elements of the Eucharist. This Friday is the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, revealing Jesus’ compassionate love for humanity. Edmund Rice shared this same compassion for those most in need in his community.
In Pope Francis' recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti calls us to open our hearts to the world and to be a compassionate presence so that life might flourish in its fullness for Earth and its peoples. Primarily it calls us into a ‘Culture of encounter’ with our brothers and sisters. (30) “To speak of a “culture of encounter” means that we, as a people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone. This becomes an aspiration and a style of life.” (216)
It is often these moments where we have ‘Eucharist’ moments of breaking bread with the other, nourished by word, presence and sustenance. Our community of St Joseph’s has been busy as ever over the last term developing a culture encounter as students and staff who are living our theme this year, ‘Living the Golden Rule in the year of St Joseph.’ Having recently completed a Middle Leadership Program with a group of St Joseph’s staff led by The Brown Collective’s founder Stephen Brown, one key takeaway for me was that the word culture comes from the Latin word ‘To care’.
Leah Irving our Identity Team’s Service Learning Coordinator has recently launched a new initiative for our senior students and staff that is truly a living example of this through, ‘Mac & Joes – Nourishing Neighbours Connecting Community’. Mt Sion students and all staff have been invited to cook meals in the senior kitchen for home delivery to McKellar Centre palliative care patients, their carers and families. Students earn two House points and two hours of service-learning credit for each session completed.
I attended the last session before our lockdown and it was just the most amazing experience of encounter as students worked in pairs following their recipes, chatting away while preparing delicious meals. Once the meals were packed into their containers and the ‘Mac & Joes’, label stickers went on (designed by Art teacher Charlie Purdy) did the further culture of encounter take place. As the students delivered the meals on a trolley to the McKellar staff members van and then gathered to hear where the meals were going and stories of gratitude from recipients of the previous week's meals.
Palliative care at home aims to support people living with a terminal illness to spend as much time as possible in their own home with the care and support of family, friends and community. Families within the St Joseph’s College community have already been the grateful recipients of some of our meals. Palliative care concentrates on a person’s quality of life by managing symptoms and meeting a person’s social, emotional and spiritual needs. It also provides advice, support and education to family and friends. The patients, their carers and families all around the Geelong region gratefully receive our meals.
Due to COVID restrictions impacting on our ability to cook on campus for the rest of this term, staff, students and families are requested to please cook at home for McKellar Centre patients and carers in palliative care.
From today until the end of Term.