The Cardoner Project

Emma Peers Tejero; Julian Butler, SJ - Australian Province
[From “Jesuits 2023 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]

A Jesuit tertiary student-focused ministry to volunteer in various ways and places.

In 2014 then 19-year-old Australian Paddy Jenkins spent nine months volunteering as an English teacher for school students in Northern Thailand. Paddy took the opportunity after finishing school to engage in service through The Cardoner Project, a Jesuit tertiary student-focused ministry. The Project had begun four years earlier, in 2010, as a response to the desire of young people to serve those most in need in the world.

“As cliché as it may sound, my time through The Cardoner Project was completely life changing. It took me outside my comfort zone and forced me to interact with people, a language, and a culture so dramatically different to what I was used to,” says Paddy.

Over the past decade the Project has offered opportunities for hundreds of young people like Paddy to accompany and serve those in disadvantaged communities, both locally and internationally. The international and domestic volunteer program sees young people engage in-community for 6- and 12-month placements, often supporting Jesuit works. These placements have ranged from Vietnam, Thailand, Micronesia, Tonga, Zambia to the Northern Territory in Australia.


“Thai Talk with Paddy’s” YouTube channel

Since finishing university three years ago and amid a busy professional life, Paddy’s engagement with his experience in Thailand has continued with a YouTube channel, “Thai Talk with Paddy.” His videos often consist of street interviews with the Thai diaspora of Sydney. Paddy started the online channel as a way of promoting inter-cultural dialogue and to encourage language learning.

“Paddy’s YouTube venture has allowed many young Thai people across Australia to feel at home here.” says Fr Ramesh Richards, SJ, Rector of The Cardoner Project. Fr Ramesh senses the Jesuit missionary spirit in the initial engagement overseas and in his creative work back home. “Paddy, like so many, gave himself entirely to the community that he served, often sleeping and eating in their homes, speaking in their dialect, essentially becoming one with the community.”

That experience of that community has stayed with Paddy and influences his actions today. “I feel like the time with The Cardoner Project has engrained in me a greater sense of empathy, patience and curiosity that still guides me here in my often ‘too busy’ life here in Sydney.”


Teaching English in Nepal and Sri Lanka

Xavier Rickard is another for whom experiences with The Cardoner Project has left a profound mark. “After graduating from high school, I was lucky enough to spend a year abroad teaching English to students in Nepal and Sri Lanka. The communities that invited me into their lives helped broaden my perspective and introduced me to the importance of relationships.”

Amazed by the generosity of those with whom he lived, Xavier wanted to experience that sense of community when he returned home. In 2014 The Cardoner Project’s founder, Fr. David Braithwaite, SJ, established Bellarmine House in Sydney’s university precinct, a residential community for young people who wanted to live in community with Jesuits and engage in local service and faith formation.

“Bellarmine House,” says Xavier, “allowed me to connect with young people who were passionate about strengthening the relationships we have with others. The Cardoner Project gave me the opportunity to discover more about my own personal values and allowed me to develop a passion for service.” These experiences led Xavier and two other Bellarmine House residents moving into De Porres House, a transitional residential home for men who have experienced periods of incarceration, homelessness, or addiction.


Serving an Australian indigenous community

Although the impact of Covid-19 was felt at the Project, it also offered the opportunity to focus locally. In 2020, three young women took part in the Project’s first Indigenous Australian in-community volunteer placement.

“I was very grateful to be able to serve in an Aboriginal community because it allowed me to encounter the diversity of Australia,” says one of the young women, Cyan Swan. After the experience, Cyan and another of the young women moved into Bellarmine House.

Along with a growing number of young people, they engage in weekly outreach by cooking and sharing lunch each Sunday with the residents of the nearby Sydney public housing buildings. Cyan currently runs an online English tutoring program between Australian volunteers and Thai students in one of our Thailand partner colleges.

The young women are also involved in running programs of peer-driven leadership for other university and high school students. In this way they’re working to pass on the spirit of faith and service with the next cohort of young adults.

For Paddy, Xavier and Cyan, The Cardoner Project of the Society of Jesus has been a fabulous kind of accompaniment on their journey to a life of service.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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