By Georgia Baker (YMO at Mt St Patrick’s College Murwillumbah)
When I think back to the week I experienced in Wilcannia, the words that come to mind are selfless love. Everyone we came in contact with over the trip showed nothing but selfless love.
On Sunday the 28th December, 10 students and 4 staff members including myself and our Parish Priest Fr Anthony Lemon from Mt St Patrick’s College Murwillumbah, set off on a trip to Wilcannia. The journey began with a Parish Mass at Sacred Heart Church where we were commissioned for the mission.
… Then the two-day bus trip began.
Weeks before we went to Wilcannia Fr Anthony, mentioned in a homily, “we are going to Wilcannia to serve not to be served.”
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”. Matthew 20:28)
I love the sense of community we experienced in Wilcannia. We were warmly welcomed and it was amazing to be able to make a difference. The smallest action, like a smile, lit up the student’s faces. We served in simple ways; taking the time to get to know the students and serving them BBQ lunch.
Getting to know the students and staff of St Therese’s Community School was by far my highlight of the trip everyone was so joyful and welcoming. It was obvious the children appreciated our presence at their school. Again the small things like, taking the time to stop, listen and play with them, brought the children to life. It was evident within the community that the children had a lot of challenges in their lives. By our presence, the children had the chance to actually attend school and have an enjoyable time. Just seeing children with a smile on their face, having so much fun playing soccer, learning to read, singing, celebrating Mass, giving us a tour of the river and playing at the park, made the trip so worthwhile. We all grew an understanding of St Mother Teresa’s encouragement, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
I loved learning about the Paakantyi People and the history of the Wilcannia Community. The Aunties and Uncles who worked at the School taught the group so much about the Paakantyi Language and symbols of their culture. We sang songs, painted symbols on crosses and celebrated Mass in the Paakantyi Language. I know we all came away with a deeper appreciation for the First Australians; their culture, their Spirit, their faith and knowledge of the land.
It’s crazy to think that people in Australia are living in the conditions of a Third World Country. Why isn’t this common knowledge? We all came away awestruck by the contrast of our living conditions and lifestyle. In the same country, we have fancy cars, resources to spare and food wastage enough to feed communities. This trip put into perspective that we need to appreciate the little things in life because in some places they are the big things.
The St Therese Community School is a home for the staff and students from Wilcannia and has become a home for us as well. We look forward to growing the friendship in the years to come and offering what we can to support an amazing community!