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Year of Youth: parish priests and leaders gather to prepare

Media and Communications Office

On Saturday 21 October, an enthused crowd met at Melbourne’s Catholic Leadership Centre to look ahead for the liturgical year of 2018, the ‘Year of Youth’, beginning 3 December 2017, the first Sunday of Advent. 

Hosted by the Archdiocesan Office for Youth, the event was titled ‘The Year of Youth: in your parish’ and consisted of a series of workshops and keynote addresses from Bishop Mark Edwards and Dr Philip Hughes. 

As described by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), the Year of Youth ‘invites the church into dialogue about the importance and life-giving presence of young people in the Church and society.’ 

The day focussed on readying parishes with resources and information to prepare for an energised year that promises to inspire and engage Australia’s youth.
 
The World Youth Day 2008 song, 'Receive The Power' was performed as part of the event's opening ceremony.  
 
Bishop Edwards, the Episcopal Vicar for Tertiary Education and Youth, gave the first keynote to a 200 strong audience. He emphasised the importance of ‘Anointed and Sent’, a document initiated by the Australian Network of Diocesan Youth Ministry and developed by the ACBC, and one of the key themes for the Year of Youth. The document highlights Catholic Church Australia’s vision for ministry with young people aged 12-30. 

Bishop Edwards encouraged the enthralled listeners to ‘take (Anointed and Sent) to your parish council. Take this to your youth leaders.’ 

He told the audience there was a need to accompany young people as they listen to what God is asking of them. Bishop Edwards turned to the example set by St Josephine Bahkita, who was sold into slavery at a young age before finding Christ once she had been set free. 

‘“I wish I had known God when I was a slave,”’ said Bishop Edwards, recounting St Bahkita’s words to a friend. ‘It would have made an incredible difference to her in her life of mistreatment,’ he explained. 

Next, Bishop Edwards referred to Servant of God Mary Glowrey JMJ as a source of inspiration for youth. He described Mary Glowrey’s ‘multileveled’ vocations as she became a medical professional and at 33 years old, sailed to India to lend urgently needed help to medial missionaries. 

‘She might be the right person for young people to hear about,’ he added.
 
Bishop Mark Edwards, the Episcopal Vicar for Tertiary Education and Youth  
 
The second keynote came from Dr Philip Hughes, an author and formerly of the Christian Research Association. He discussed the various ways young people engage in ministry, as well as the need to welcome youth to the Church and the importance of intergenerational, dynamic parishes. 

Dr Hughes discussed today’s youth experiencing challenges in finding meaning and that they are part of a society that since 2000, has recorded a statistical decline in the confidence of churches. 

However, he celebrated that ‘there is an enthusiastic core of young people who are (involved in parishes).’ 

‘There are a lot of young people attending mass weekly, often involved in more than one parish as they seek relevant activities to be involved in,’ Dr Hughes said. ‘They are enthusiastic about their faith and they see it as relevant to their lives, although it is not always easy to apply faith to life.’

He concluded his speech emphasising the significance of fostering strong relationships with the youth in Australia’s parishes and encouraged young people to form their own sense of ownership to the Church.
 
 Dr Philip Hughes
 
Following the engaging addresses to launch the event, attendees dispersed into workshops to develop innovative strategies and exciting insights for the year ahead. 

The workshops, separated into three, hour-long blocks throughout the afternoon, explored a variety of topics including: ‘the power of music’, ‘generation to generation: guidance for the parents of teenagers’ and ‘navigating tricky terrain: pastorally responding to today's hot topics’. 

The event concluded with an address from Annaliese Ros, acting director of the Archdiocesan Office for Youth. Her speech set out a roadmap for the year ahead, delivering clarity and motivation to an audience that will lead their parishes to an inclusive and promising ‘Year of Youth’. 

For more information on the Year of Youth, visit: https://www.cam.org.au/youth/YearOfYouth/The-Year-of-Youth-in-Your-Parish 

The workshops gave attendees a chance to focus on key areas for the Year of Youth. 




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Are you a youth minister or involved in youth ministry? If this is the case, we would love to hear from you! Share a reflection, or your experience of your youth group's event? Or perhaps you've attended a talk, or retreat, or similar and would like to share your experience. If you fall under one of these categories, please feel free to get in touch and submit your an by emailing us here: aoy@cam.org.au
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