De La Salle Cronulla’s Pilgrimage Meeting with Bishop Marcello Sanchez Sorondo Students and staff from De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla have just returned from Italy for the beginning of the new school year. As well as studying the HSC subjects Ancient History, Visual Arts and Studies of Religion first hand, they have made a pilgrimage following the medieval Camino through central Italy.
The Via Francigena was the route travelled by St. Francis of Assisi as well as innumerable pilgrims heading for Rome to pray at the tomb of St. Peter. The students were able to stop and pray at numerous sacred sites along the way like the house of St Catherine of Siena and the pilgrimage church of Santa Maria Assunta at Monteriggioni.
Upon reaching Rome the students were greeted by the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy Q.C. K.C.S.G. and taken behind the scenes at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican gardens. This Renaissance era summer house is now the site for Vatican diplomacy and humanitarian efforts. It also houses the first official portrait of Pope Francis painted by former refugee and Bundeena artist, Jiawei Shen, which was a present to the Holy Father from the Australian Government.
The students met Bishop Marcello Sanchez Sorondo, Head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who has been entrusted by Pope Francis to oversee the Global Freedom Network. This is a movement supported by global religious leaders and philanthropists, like Australia’s “Twiggy” Forrest, which is committed to ending modern slavery and human trafficking. The Australian ambassador, along with George Cardinal Pell, is an active participant in this network which was founded under Pope Francis and dedicated to the Church’s mission in the field of social justice. The Casina Pio was the site of the initial meeting of world religious leaders to establish the network. The ambassador and the bishop impressed upon the students that putting an end to modern forms of slavery, like child labour, the sexual exploitation of women and children and the trafficking of indebted labourers, is a task of similar magnitude to the philanthropic eighteenth century campaign to end Chattel Slavery. In many ways the Global Freedom network is continuing the fight that is best known internationally through the actions of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.
The De La Salle College Captain, Madeline Tripodi, was deeply honoured to meet the Bishop and said,
“While it is wonderful to see the rich history and artistic heritage of the church in Italy, it is more meaningful to me to see the Church bringing world religions together to address real contemporary issues like forced child labour. The work of the Global Freedom Network is truly inspiring and has made me ask important questions about the products I consume,” she concluded.
Article: Couretsy of Byron Hurst, Teacher De La Salle College Cronulla.