Liturgy Captain Jack Meehan was privileged last year to be one of our pilgrims who participated in our Marist Solidarity Immersion in Cambodia. Since returning, Jack has prepared a wonderful book as a keepsake of the experience. Included in the book are the blog entries written by different pilgrims each night in Cambodia; they speak to the profound impact this experience had on each participant. It was a coincidence that the book arrived in the same week that we needed to confirm with applicants for this year’s Solidarity Immersion in Cambodia that we definitely can’t go this year. While not surprising news for the young men who were hoping to challenge themselves by participating in this journey of faith and service, it was still difficult news to break. This Immersion – in fact all three immersions that the College offers – deepens understandings of the Marist charism, what it truly means to stand in solidarity with others, and who we are called to be as Marists and Christians.
Our Immersion Program is important to us at Marcellin and we hope to be able to reinvigorate it next year. Unfortunately, we have also had to confirm that our Remar Blue Caravel from Year 11 are unable to participate in their planned Solidarity Immersion in Bourke in September; we are, nevertheless, in ongoing talks with St. Ignatius Primary School in Bourke to see if the experience can be rescheduled. Unsurprisingly, we also can’t offer our St Marcellin Champagnat Award: this annual award supports three Old Collegians aged between 18 and 25 years to further develop their spirituality and experience of the Marist charism by taking part in an immersion experience in South Africa. The cancellation of these experiences is very disappointing, but we remember how blest we are in so many other ways. The communities that host us for these immersions are in much greater need than we are and it is our intention to continue to do what we can for these communities.
As this year progresses, we plan to reschedule our Solidarity Week and, as we usually do, ask our community members to donate non-perishable food items, toothpaste, toothbrushes and what cash you can for us to provide to our Immersion partners. Those communities are comprised of the people St Marcellin called “the marginalised”. I have been privileged to participate in two of the three immersions we offer, and I’d call these people the same as you and me – keen to eat, to be healthy, to laugh and to learn. I hope to soon be able to advise you of a time that we can hold our Solidarity Week so that we can make it that bit easier for the indigenous in Bourke, the refugees in Johannesburg and the poor and oppressed in Cambodia to safely chase their dreams. In the meantime, please make sure that you are staying safe too!