Diocese of Parramatta


The Works of Mercy Explained

The works of mercy are categorised in two areas: the corporal and the spiritual. There are seven works in each category.

The seven corporal works of mercy (CWM) are:

  1. Feed the hungry;
  2. Give drink to the thirsty;
  3. Clothe the naked;
  4. Shelter the homeless;
  5. Comfort the sick;
  6. Visit the imprisoned;
  7. Bury the dead.

The seven spiritual works of mercy (SWM) are:

  1. Instruct the ignorant;
  2. Counsel the doubtful;
  3. Admonish sinners;
  4. Bear wrongs patiently;
  5. Forgive offences willingly;
  6. Comfort the afflicted;
  7. Pray for the living and the dead.

In this program, the 14 works of mercy have been combined into 5 scriptural categories based on Matthew 25 using an approach taken by Fr Michael Gaitley in his book You Did It to Me: A Practical Guide to Mercy in Action. This approach allows for there to be a specific work of mercy for each week of Lent. These 5 scriptural categories are:

  1. “I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food & I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink.” (CWM 1 & 2)
  2. I Was Sick and You Visited Me.” (CWM 5)
  3. “I Was in Prison and You Came to Me.” (CWM 6 + SWM 3 & 7)
  4. “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me.” (CWM 4 & 7 + SWM 4 & 5)
  5. “I Was Naked and You Clothed Me.” (CWM 3 + SWM 1, 2 & 6)

Practical Ways to perform Works of Mercy in Lent 2016

Week 1

“I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food.”
“I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink.”


Idea 1: Donate food to or volunteer for a soup kitchen/emergency food service:

  • St Vincent de Paul food van
  • Loaves and Fishes Blacktown
  • Penrith Community Kitchen – The Penrith Community Kitchen is a separately registered charity within the St Nicholas of Myra Parish. The Parish supports the work of this charity with an annual donation and the generosity of parishioners. Penrith Community Kitchen is a community project staffed by volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring that the people of Penrith and surrounding areas have a place where they can feel welcome; enjoy friendly company and a daily meal. For more details call 4721 1444

Idea 2: Donate money to an organisation that feeds the hungry:

Week 2

I Was Sick and You Visited Me.”

Idea 1: Make a meal for a sick or elderly family member or friend

Idea 2: Volunteer for an organisation that looks after the sick and/or the elderly

The follow list of organisations need volunteers to help with their mission to help the sick and elderly. All these organisations require their volunteers to undergo a police check and some initial training. Most of these organisations expect their volunteers to make a regular commitment of a few hours per month.

Here is the list of organisations requiring volunteers:

Week 3

“I Was in Prison and You Came to Me.”

Idea 1: Make a welcome backpack for a person getting out of jail

This program is run by Prison Fellowship Ministries. The following are the suggested contents for ‘Welcome backpacks’ for inmates on release:

  • backpack
  • toiletries – soap, toothbrushes/paste, small packs of tissues, comb/brush, face cloth, razors/ shaving cream, deodorant/roll-on, nail brush, moisturiser
  • small towel
  • bottle of water
  • small notebook & pens

Call 8838 3440 to organise the pick up of this back pack. Email famlife@parra.catholic.org.au if you wish to explore other ways that you and your family can help those in prison or their families.

Idea 2: Make an encouragement poster for a prisoner using Microsoft Powerpoint

Send a copy of your encouragement poster to famlife@parra.catholic.org.au so they can be sent to Kairos Prison Ministries for distribution.

Idea 3: Buy slavery free Easter Eggs and educate your family on fair trade:

Check out the ACRATH website on this topic

Idea 4: Watch a video on the life of St Josephine Bakhita:

Check out the video on St Bakhita here


Week 4

“I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me.”

Idea 1: Create welcome hampers for those new in your community or parish.

Idea 2: Volunteer to help supply the Vinnies Van with items that go out to the homeless.

Some of the items can be

  • Grocery shopping for sandwich ingredients
  • Making sandwiches at the Van base for our homeless patrons
  • Shopping for toiletries
  • Packing hygiene kits for our patrons
  • Sorting clothes and blankets for our patrons
  • Collecting and sorting second hand books for our patrons’ mobile library
  • Knitting scarves for our patrons

St Vincent de Paul Food Van – https://www.vinnies.org.au/page/Find_Help/NSW/Food/Penrith__Parramatta_Night_Patrol/

Idea 3: Volunteer to run Youth of the Streets fundraiser in your school or parish.

Youth of the Streets – https://youthoffthestreets.com.au/support-us/run-a-fundraiser/

Idea 4: Make an effort to forgive others quickly.

If you are having trouble doing this, pray and reflect upon the words of the Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Week 5

“I Was Naked and You Clothed Me.”

Idea 1: Donate clothing or volunteer at St Vincent de Paul retail store.

To help your local Vinnies store out you can:

  • Collecting good quality second hand clothes
  • Sorting clothes at our distribution centre
  • Volunteering in our stores

Find your local store: https://www.vinnies.org.au/shops

Idea 2: Providing your friends or family with books/CDs/DVDs on the Catholic Faith.

Here are a few local outlets:

St Paul’s Book Centre

238 Church Street Parramatta NSW 2150

Phone: 02 9126 8912



Mustard Seed

3 Keating Street Lidcombe Sydney NSW 2141

Phone: 02 9646 9000



Parousia Media

Old Northern Road Dural NSW 2198

Phone: 9651 0375



Cardinal Newman Bookshop

15 – 21 Collins Street St Marys NSW 2760
(Cnr. Collins St at the former Our Lady of the Rosary Infants School and behind the church)

Phone: 9673 2235



Idea 3: Invite a family struggling with a crisis over for dinner and offer them some support.

Be prepared to give them some contact details for professional help if it is appropriate and they are open to suggestions.

Some places you may want to refer them are:

Catholic Care – http://www.ccss.org.au/

St Vincent de Paul Society- https://www.vinnies.org.au/findhelp

Lifeline – https://www.lifeline.org.au/


Idea 4: Donate a box of books, DVDs or CDs to Lifeline to help them fundraise for their telephone crisis support line service.

If you wish to donate material goods contact Family and Life Office Director, Ben Smith on 8838 3440 or bsmith@parra.catholic.org.au for more information about drop offs or pick up points.


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