Seeds Of Justice: Responding to the Call
Santa Maria College, as a member of Mercy Education Ltd, has established a chapter of the Social Justice Program Seeds of Justice, in Western Australia for students in schools who carry the Mercy charism. The aims of the Seeds of Justice Program are:
- To form students and staff in the Mercy charism;
- To raise awareness of contemporary issues in social justice; and
- To facilitate new links between students and staff of Western Australian Mercy schools.
Students from Santa Maria College, St Brigid’s College, and Aranmore Catholic College participated in a conference-style program, over two days, held at St John of God Retreat Centre in Shoalwater this week. The theme of the conference allowed students to be “Empowered to respond to both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor”. The theme allowed both staff and students to further explore this key area of justice identified by the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG). As articulated in the ISMAPNG 2017 Chapter Statement, “disturbed by the despair and suffering of many peoples and the degradation of Earth, we are impelled to reflective action for gospel justice.”
Below, students Sienna Romeri (Year 11), Nishi Jayawickrema (Year 10) and Myra Lee (Year 10) write about their experiences.
We were given an opportunity to hear from a variety of guest speakers and teaching staff. Christine Aldous, a former teacher and environmental and refugee educator, gave us insights into the history of creation teachings from a variety of perspectives and how polluted other countries are compared to our own. From her own photographs and real-life experiences, we gained a wider perspective of how privileged the lives we lead are.
To finish off the day and gather our thoughts we walked a labyrinth to help relax our minds and de-stress. At night, we researched our ecological footprints and calculated our scores. Some students were surprised with their footprint whilst others were proud. This was an eye-opener because we haven’t focused on how important our ecological footprints are at school and don’t realise how destructive we can be to the environment. To end a busy day, we viewed David Attenborough’s witness statement to the environment and discovered how sacred creation around us truly is.
Surrounded by like-minded people, it’s safe to say that the Seeds of Justice conference was an eye-opening and valuable experience. Past student Jacqui Daniels (Lange, Class of 1986) and owner of nest’d, a recycling-based boutique, provided students with an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the wider society and the dynamics of indigenous heritage. Jacqui also spoke of the importance of recycling and upcycling and engaged us in a practical session, sewing over old reworked patches of jeans; creating tears, rips, and patterns with thread, to imitate and inspire the upcycling within us.
On day two, the group completed service at Naragebup, the Rockingham Environmental Centre, being true ‘seeds’ and doing our part to sustain and nurture God’s creation.
Overall, the 2021 Seeds of Justice conference was extremely valuable and inspiring. It stirred intrigue, questioning, and emotion in us all. The conference would not have been a success without the wonderful commitment of our teachers Ms Rosa Speranza and Mrs Melissa Trolio, who dedicated time and effort to make this conference a success.