Seeds of Justice Sleep Out
Damascus College is a school in the Mercy Tradition, that is, in the line of communities that have evolved from the gospel faith and life values of Catherine McAuley (1778-1841), founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831
In Victoria this tradition has formed an association of Mercy schools under the banner of the Seeds of Justice program. The schools work together to plan conferences for representative students and staff to induct community members into the vision and work of the Mercy tradition. The conferences have used the corporal works of Mercy found in Matthew’s gospel as a scriptural underpinning of the conference process. These works of Mercy are the focus of our own Christian Personal Development Award Year 10 Introductory Program. Damascus College joined this movement in 2009 and has gained and given a great deal to the Seeds of Justice movement.
In 2013 the corporal work of Mercy that was discussed at a number of the Seeds of Justice conferences was “Welcoming the Stranger” with a particular emphasis on homelessness. This has prompted the Damascus College representatives to propose that a Sleep Out be planned to raise funds and awareness in support of those who are caught in the complex set of circumstances that leads to homelessness. Our recent sleepover was the sixth of its type.
The Year 11 students began to assemble at 8:00 pm with their minders. They were aware that the College had secured partners for the event who work directly with the street dwellers of Ballarat. Adam Liversage of the Uniting Church Street 2 Home Program and Craig Schepis founder and energiser of the Ballarat Soup Buses.
After meeting our guests and hearing their stories of homelessness in Ballarat it was on the concrete with cardboard and bedding. At various stages in the night the students were asked to move on and find another place to sleep. Just as if they were homeless in the city.
We hope that the experience was a faith filled time and provide lasting positive memories about social justice as well as make a difference to the homeless people in our rural city. The sponsorship of the event by friends and families raised in excess of $750 for the partner organisations.