Fr Durham (February AD2000) laments the hedonistic 'schoolies' which he correctly points out targets recent school leavers encouraging them to behave in ways that are unhealthy in body, mind and spirit.
De La Salle College Malvern, Melbourne, under the leadership of Br Denis Loft FSC, has developed an alternative for their Year 12 graduating class in the last two years. Students are invited to participate in 'Coolies Month' spending four weeks immediately after their exams in India working as unskilled labourers.
Prior to departing, the group, which in 2007 numbered about 20 young men, had to raise enough money to pay for the materials for the houses they will help to build. They do this by various means including approaching their parishes for support by speaking at Sunday Masses. One young man from the group, which went to India in late 2007, so impressed two families in his parish that they each fully funded the cost of the materials for one whole house.
These young men work with 'reaching the unreached' (RTU), a project established by Br James Kimpton, an 82-year-old English De La Salle Brother committed to looking after abandoned children in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, India. With the project's second year completed, there appears to be no shortage of willing participants.
No doubt these young men still want to celebrate the end of their exams and their secondary schooling, however in their generosity they have taken time out to be 'men for others' giving priority to those less fortunate than they are.
It is both a life-changing experience and an inspiring example for those who support the young volunteers. It is planned that the program will continue indefinitely. So the example of 'coolies not schoolies' developed by one Catholic school determined to be counter-cultural could give rise to similar programs targeting disadvantaged situations by other like-minded schools.
With the inspiration of WYD08, hopefully other schools will develop similar opportunities for the Year 12 students to give themselves in service to the marginalised and skip 'schoolies' altogether!
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