Schools step up to walk with the excluded during Lent

09 April 2021|Anne Nesbitt

St Pats

Despite the success of Australia’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of the people that Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia serves have not diminished.

Demand for JRS Australia’s food bank, emergency financial assistance, specialist case work services, and employment support continues to remain high, if not increase further.

This will continue until people are able to secure employment and are provided with financial safety net in the interim. Some people are at a significant, added disadvantage in the labour market due to significant physical or mental illnesses, ongoing domestic and family violence,  yet remain without a safety net.

JRS Australia’s food bank continues to feed 1000 people each week, including 300 children. Much of the non-perishable food has been provided by schools and parishes who have organised food bank appeals.

During Lent, JRS ran a targeted appeal, called “6 Weeks of Lent – Give 6 Things.”  Each week school communities collected a different items, based on indicated need:

  • Week 1: Basmati Rice
  • Week 2: Tuna in oil
  • Week 3: Cooking oil
  • Week 4: Tinned Tomatoes
  • Week 5: Tinned Lentils/Chickpeas/Red Kidney Beans
  • Week 6: Pasta

Eleven schools, seven primary and four secondary, answered the call and ran the Lenten appeal.

While donating food bank items are a practical way to provide support to JRS, the action also shows the commitment of schools to promote social justice and a way for students to learn about the work of JRS.

As a Jesuit ministry, we are committed to the Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preference (UAP) of Walking with the Excluded; we seek to challenge and change the political and social structures that generate injustices.  The UAPs align with Catholic Social Teachings (CSTs): Dignity, Common Good, and Solidarity.

Several of the schools have partnered with JRS to hear first-hand experiences of people who have come to Australia seeking protection.  Based on what they have heard, they have taken further action, such as writing letters to their local decision-makers.

For more information on our school program, please contact