JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH
A version of this article by Fr Ramesh Richards SJ was originally published in Cardoner Network’s December 2022 newsletter.
Just an hour ago, five young adults and I spent a few hours making 80 chicken burritos and brownies before heading out to Ward Park a 30-minute stroll from Jesuit House, the home of the Cardoner Network in Sydney, where we meet almost every Sunday to share a burrito and a yarn with the locals who are often living on the margins. Before heading out, we sat together to share what was on our mind that might hold us back from truly being present to one another and to the people we were to encounter. One of our seasoned volunteers shared that whilst he had a particularly hard week, he was looking forward to just simply being with the people that often go unnoticed or forgotten where he could simply be.
The sharing of the young adult brought to mind the Little Drummer Boy, a Christmas carol that we hear every year, a carol of a young little drummer boy invited by the Magi to play the drums for Jesus. Before he plays the drum, he tells the baby Jesus that he too is poor, and the only gift he has for Jesus is to play the drum. After seeking the permission of Mary (what a good boy!), he begins to play for Jesus, and he in turn receives a gift of a smile from Jesus, a gift he had not expected.
In 2022 through your support, we (you!) shared approximately 4000 burritos and brownies with our friends living on the margins. NSW Department of Communities and Justice have asked us to consider growing it to 12,000 burritos and brownies in 2023.
We are proud of the three young women in Northern Territory and the three young men in Nepal currently meeting the needs of the communities that they have become part of whilst growing into a deeper self-understanding in relationship with community.
In 2023, at least sixteen young men and women will be going to Thailand, each for six months or a year to continue the good work of Cardoner’s past volunteers. We also have a 3-week Immersion to Nepal in January with 12 participants, led by Fr Nico Lariosa SJ. They’ll meet up with the three volunteers in Tipling and benefit from the guidance they can give them on this special partner community.
We are very grateful for the support of past Cardoner volunteers in preparing our new volunteers for their time in-community. The input of past volunteers is a crucial part of our pre-departure preparation.
Bellarmine House will see a big changeover in 2023 as all but three of our current residents move on to new adventures. We are looking forward to welcoming a new cohort to the community and still have places left for new residents.
Just like the little drummer boy, we at times believe that who we are, or what we have, is inadequate, but if we go beyond our comfort zone, and share our gifts, we will receive a smile, let alone a smile from baby Jesus.
Fr Ramesh Richards SJ
Feature photo of volunteers walking from Jesuit House to Ward Park to share Burrito and Brownies.