WALKING WITH THE EXCLUDED
Last weekend the Maytime Fair occurred on a day of cold and wet weather but with a community full of warmth and hope. It was heartening to see so many from the Jesuit communities across Melbourne there in support. Xavier College has hosted this event since 1951 as a way of supporting Australian Jesuits who had travelled to India in service of people in a place called Hazaribagh in the northeast of India. This was the first of several waves of Jesuits through the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s who went to accompany, educate, serve and advocate for the people in a part of the world too easily overlooked.
The desire of those who began and sustained the Maytime Fair to be partners in mission, along with others in other parts of Australia, led to the establishment of Jesuit Mission Australia. In this way we utilise institutional structures to magnify our impact and better serve those in need through partnerships with Jesuits and companions in places of great need. Jesuit Mission Australia has not lost that underlying character of faithfully accompanying those on the ground who are working to empower people marginalised and displaced.
The character of many of our Jesuit ministries was on display at the Maytime Fair, as it was on Saturday night in Sydney when North Sydney Parish hosted a fundraiser at St Ignatius’, Riverview in support of Jesuit Social Service’s work in the Mt Druitt area. The following day the Manresa Circle of Friends, a group connected with the St Ignatius’ Norwood parish and long supporters of Jesuit Refugee Service, hosted a fundraising concert at St Ignatius’, Athelstone. Each a model of generous collaboration.
As I enjoyed wandering through all the stalls at the Maytime Fair, catching up with people, I was moved by the generosity, in this case, of the Xavier College community. Students, parents, staff and friends of the school volunteering time and money in support of the work of the Society of Jesus. With them, too, were companions from our parish in Hawthorn, Immaculate Conception, from our companion school, Loyola College Watsonia, from Newman College and so many who are connected with the Jesuits over many years.
We are at our best as a Jesuit Province, made up of vowed Jesuits, the ministries in our care and those who partner with us in our mission, when we recognise the ways in which we can work together out of our shared identity. We can be so much more than the sum of our parts if we share and collaborate as we seek to join together in the building of the Kingdom of God.
Fr Quyen Vu SJ
Photos by Australian Province of the Society of Jesus.