Dialog Box

08 October 2019

Compassion for young offenders

Last week, CatholicCare’s chaplaincy team at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre gathered together with our Senior Manager of Pastoral Services, Paul Zammit, for an evening of sharing, formation and reflection.

The team, consisting of Chaplain Melanie Edwards and five volunteers, took this gathering as an opportunity to pause and consider key encounters and experiences over the past year through their involvement with the FUSION program and the Sunday Prayer Services at the youth justice centre.

FUSION is a weekly program where the volunteers spend time with young people, building positive relationships of support and giving residents the chance to communicate in a non-judgemental environment. 

During the gathering, the group were shown a painting which creates an optical illusion – where some people will see a painting of a young woman, while others will view an old woman. The volunteers all saw the young woman, indicating their solidarity with the young people they encounter in the youth justice centre.

Painting: In the illusion, the young woman faces away to the left, so that we see the back of her head. The mouth of the old woman is the young woman’s necklace – the old woman faces left and we can see a side view of her face, with one eye visible. Image from: http://brainden.com/face-illusions.htm


Throughout the evening, the group spoke of a deep compassion for the struggles that many of the young people are experiencing, and a desire to see them discover purpose and live their lives to the full.

'The powerful insights of the volunteer team and their compassion and concern for the young people they meet was inspiring,’ said Melanie Edwards. ‘Their dedication and desire to advocate for them is both refreshing and courageous. The work of these volunteers is of great value.’

The gathering concluded with a prayer attributed to St Oscar Romero (1917 – 1980), which reflected the thoughts, experiences and hopes the group had expressed together:

"We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work…… That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise…… We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising this. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker."

Above: CatholicCare's Chaplaincy Team from Parkville Youth Justice Centre.


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