Mission Expo II - Young people explore the call to live mission locally
In his message for World Mission Month, Pope Francis said that "The joy of the Gospel is born of the encounter with Christ and from sharing with the poor.” For the second year running, the Archdiocesan Office for Youth hosted Mission Expo, an evening for young people inspired by their faith to explore the call to mission.
This year’s Mission Expo focussed on living mission locally, gathering 20 Melbourne-based communities and organisations which welcome young volunteers. Over one hundred young people explored volunteering opportunities in the inner city and outer suburbs, including opportunities to serve alongside religious congregations such as the Capuchin Friars and Missionaries of Charity, to initiatives led entirely by young people including Marist Youth Ministry and the Young Christian Workers movement.
The breadth of ministries represented on the evening also challenged the attendees’ understanding of who the poor are. These spanned from the Caroline Chisholm Society who support expectant mothers, Don Bosco Camps and Edmund Rice Camps which host weekends away for disadvantaged children, L’Arche which brings together people with and without mental disabilities to live in community and Mercy Palliative Care whose volunteers accompany the families of people who are nearing the end of life.
The evening also included a program of speakers, opened by Michael Walter from the St Vincent de Paul Society who spoke about the significance of the transforming call to mission. Jack Chui who founded Friends of Refugees Melbourne shared how his experience of mission was born out of the need he saw in his parish and how his response was supported by his parish community. Sr Rita Malavisi concluded the speaking program by inviting young people to reflect on their volunteering activities and practice self-care to ensure they can continue to live mission in a life-giving way.
Shane Smith, a youth leader from St Peter Chanel Youth Group in Deer Park who attended Mission Expo said that “If it weren’t for Mission Expo I wouldn’t have heard about the numerous and various volunteer organisations that exist in my own backyard. Mission Expo showcased how we can go on mission without going on a plane but how we can live mission in our own community.”
Words by Leeanne Grima, photos by Marie Yeo