Two people are walking along the road to Emmaus, away from the scene of the crucifixion and burial in Jerusalem. They are downcast and perplexed at what has taken place. Suddenly a stranger catches up with them and greets them.
“What are you talking about, as you walk along?” he asks kindly. After spending some time in conversation with him over a shared meal, the two are transformed. Their sadness and confusion disappear and they return to their friends to talk of what they experienced.
This story is recalled each year as part of our Easter celebrations, in Luke 24:13-35.
CatholicCare meets many people who are downcast and perplexed along the road of life. Our programs and services can be likened to a kindly stranger reaching out to offer a kind word, and help on their journey.
Sally is just your average professional. She enjoys going to work every day, and finds her work challenging and fulfilling. But Sally has a deeper, caring side to her; one that gives back to the community a few hours every week. She is a volunteer Learning Partner for the CatholicCare and ACU partnership program called Clemente Fitzroy.
Clemente Fitzroy is a humanities-based higher education program open to people experiencing severe disadvantage and social isolation. It is a free program that provides the opportunity and support to help these students make positive changes in their lives through the gift of education.
For the last two years, Sally has donated her time to help students work through their course; working together on many things from study and organisation techniques, to the more specific course-related topics.
Sally soon came to understand that, for some of these students, just leaving the house was an achievement - that it can be a huge thing to find a clean shirt, your books and turn up to class on time. Clemente students experience multiple layers of disadvantage – homelessness, alcohol and other drug abuse, mental illness, and previous incarceration – they are people who society has given up on. But through Clemente Fitzroy, they find a dedicated team of volunteers and staff who refuse to give up on them.
Sally is one of around 20 volunteers who, each semester, lend their support to others. Providing confidence and encouragement along the way, they walk side by side with students through their journey of higher education.
For one of Sally’s students this was the very first time in her life that someone had given her anything without any expectation of payment of some kind; a story that is echoed by many of the students. This program is one piece of rebuilding their lives and making their dreams of a positive future a reality; one step at a time.
“Although studying has certainly led me in a positive direction, given me hope and purpose, it didn’t magically cure my schizophrenia. I still have unbearable days, but now I am better equipped with confidence, knowledge and skills to best deal with these life challenges.” Suzanne, Clemente graduate.
This Easter, as we celebrate the transformation brought about in the life of Jesus and in the lives of those around him, we ask you to join us in reaching out to people who find themselves on the fringes of society, providing them with a path to transformation through this and the other programs offered by CatholicCare.
Sally noted that: ‘In giving something of myself, I received more than I could ever dream of from these students. The opportunity to transform their lives through this program has given me such joy and restored my faith.’
You can be part of the transformation of the lives of those who are often neglected by society; relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket and left behind. Will you join us this Easter so that others too may rise and walk in the newness of life?
To donate, use our donation form to give online or please call 03 9287 5555.
Together, we can provide a new beginning for those that turn to CatholicCare in times of need.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our volunteers and clients.