Chatting to Matt Restall, you get the impression there is something different about him – not in a weird, ultra-alternative way, but rather there is a sense of direction and purpose. There is a drive, perhaps, a motivation. Matt’s mission is to bring the Gospel to the world and, with a youthful enthusiasm, he is doing it.
The Sacraments, conferred by priests, offer the greatest gift available – the gift of Jesus Himself. Baptism is the first Sacrament, often referred to as the Sacrament of Initiation. This is certainly not something that one receives and does nothing with. It is not intended to be a stagnant sacrament, but rather the modus operandi by which we live our lives and participate in society. Matt lives this.
Matt, 19, grew up in Werribee and is the youngest of four children. He has a twin brother Chris, the older twin, and two older sisters. Matt says: “As a family we have always tried to practise our Catholic faith.” This has put him in good stead to become a leader among young people. But, Matt’s scope does not end there.
Matt first got involved with the Victorian Catholic Students and Young Adults association in 2006. The VCSYA is an association of young people with membership of more than 1000 across Victoria. The group aims to support young people to grow in their faith through spiritual, social and formational events.
Apart from its solid Catholic basis, the VCSYA attracted Matt because other people his age were members of the group. Matt has recently been re-elected president and says that he sees this group as a way to “support others in developing the same faith I am in the process of developing”.
Asked what could work better within the VCSYA, Matt said “The VCSYA needs more volunteers to provide this much-needed service of supporting other young people”.
Another Matt Restall project has been very successful. The ‘Say NO to Sexual Advertising’ campaign has received much press attention and, more so, a result.
“The advertising industry should respect the Australian community’s standards on what material should be on the side of our roads,” says Matt. “The aim of the campaign was to remove all forms of sexualised advertisements from the side of our roads and vehicles.” Driven by a concern for future generations, a respect for women and men, and the removal of distractions for drivers, Matt said the “campaign had received great support nationwide”.
Of his current ministry, Matt concluded: “I find it a great opportunity and privilege to be able to support others in following God’s call.” And, when asked what the future might hold for him, he said: “I believe getting to know God better is a life-long calling.”
Things do not end there! Matt has nominated for local council, elections for which will be held in the coming weeks. Standing for Chaffey Ward within Wyndham City Council, Matt believes he can make a real difference. “While undertaking a little research on the attributes of councillors around Victoria, I began to realise the importance of getting more young people involved in helping to make local community decisions.”
Matt strives in all his projects to remain true to the teaching of Christ and His Church. Primary school students are taught that through Baptism, one is welcomed into the family of God and the Church. We all know that, as members of a family we have responsibilities. In this context, our responsibility, as members of this family, is to bring Jesus to our daily interactions and lives. Even as a young man, Matt Restall, more than most people his age, realises this responsibility.
There is so much promise for Matt and other young people like him in the Church. World Youth Day has brought with it an opportunity for young people of faith to have a presence in the public sphere. It is so important to engage in society. It is not good enough to sit back and hope that others will make a difference – because the reality is that the responsibility for change lies with you.
I get the feeling this story is to be continued …