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Move It, Live It, Sweat It and Stop It: the Caritas Challenge for Lenten

Thomas George (Year 13)

Enable lives of dignity and hope by eliminating injustice and poverty, inspired and guided by the Gospels of Jesus and Catholic social teaching, and a loving personal encounter with people in need

Caritas is a Catholic organisation that works for Justice, Peace, and Development. They wish for a world free of poverty and injustice by delivering aid, supporting development, and advocating for justice.

With Faith as our Compass, at Sancta Maria College, we uphold many of the values that Caritas exemplifies through the work that they do.

Through various mufti days, fundraisers, and the popular overnight Caritas challenge, we continue to work alongside Caritas NZ to promote their vision and mission. By uniting our school community through these events, we show AROHA in action to overcome poverty, protect lives and relieve suffering.

During 2022, Caritas Sancta Maria College is taking a whole new approach. We are combining challenges under the headings of ‘Move It’, ‘Live It’, ‘Sweat It’, and ‘Stop It’ with the five themes of Enviroschools and we are extending all activities to our entire school year.

The Enviroschools programme is a whole school approach to sustainability. Our school Caritas group led by Dr Laux has initiated events from the start of Lent as we are Building Dreams Together: Called to be Peacemakers.

To ‘Move It’, Sancta Maria College has decided to go the distance and take up the challenge to experience travelling long distances and at the same time reducing our carbon footprint. We will participate in beach clean ups locally or even in more distant areas. This will allow us to experience travelling long distances along the beaches to help reduce the amount of litter that produces gases associated with global warming. We also invite all students, staff, parents and friends to make an effort to walk to and from school to reduce their carbon footprint. During the Caritas Challenge Day, we will experience carrying water over long distances.

Just as Jesus cared for the poor and vulnerable, we wish to ‘Live It’ and experience life in someone else’s shoes. To get the staff involved, the Caritas group challenges them to buy outfits from op shops and experience the satisfaction of being in someone else’s clothes. They will get a new look at a minimal price while recycling clothing. During the Caritas Challenge Day, we will build shelters using cardboard boxes to experience poor living conditions. We also aim to research and connect with the local iwi to learn about and experience life on a marae using very basic necessities. In addition, we want our school community to feel how important water is to humankind. We will monitor water wastage around the water fountains and will educate people about how much a drop of water can be a matter of life or death. Finally, as we want to spread aroha to those who have been affected by the constraints of Covid-19. We are collecting non-perishable items to make food parcels to help families of our school community in crisis. This allows us to understand the hardships of others and do something about it.

To ‘Sweat It’, we want to acknowledge those who work under demanding conditions physically and mentally, specifically the determined workers at the Manurewa Totara Hospice. Students are asked to recycle jam jars and upcycling them to hand-painted vases. These will be gifted to the volunteers working at the hospice at Christmas. The enviro team is also going to complete lots of gardening work all year round in hot or freezing conditions at the end of the school day to experience hard work while already being tired after a school day.

Finally, our school decided to give something up to ‘Stop It’. Being a Catholic school, we encouraged our students to follow the Lenten tradition of abstinence with an environmentally friendly twist. On Ash Wednesday, students were invited to reduce the amount of plastic waste and methane gas it produces by giving up a special treat that is plastic wrapped. This has now been extended to all Wednesdays during Lent. On Fridays, we are also inviting the school community to go meat-free to also reduce methane emission that is a major contributor to climate change.

We believe that with these new initiatives, we are going to Build Dreams Together as we are Called to be Peacemakers. We are all thrilled for what we have accomplished so far and what we will continue to accomplish through Caritas this year. We hope to make a huge impact on the lives that Caritas touches through education and actions!