ACYMC Equips Youth Ministers
From 1-3 October, the Melbourne Archdiocese was abuzz with youth leaders from across the country, gathered together for the inaugural Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention (ACYMC) held at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). Organisers were overwhelmed by the huge attendance of close to 400 participants, including youth ministers and teachers from schools, parishes, communities, movements, religious orders and dioceses from around Australia and New Zealand.
Teresa Wilson, Director of the Melbourne Archdiocesan Office for Youth, said “Melbourne is proud to have hosted such a momentous event in the life of the Church in Australia. A gathering like this highlights the significance of developing and nurturing all those who work with our youth. It was also a wonderful opportunity for our local youth leaders to see what’s happening around the country and for them to know that they are not alone in their ministry.”
Equipping youth ministers for an ever-changing landscape
The ACYMC came as an outcome of a previous national gathering of youth ministers, held in Canberra, just after World Youth Day Sydney 2008. The challenge was how to build on the Australian experience of WYD and continue to develop youth leaders in their various areas of ministry around the country.
The theme of the ACYMC, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matt 10:7), was explored throughout the convention, with keynote presentations and workshops by speakers from all over Australia, including Professor Anne Hunt from ACU and Dr Philomena Billington from the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC).
The convention was also an opportunity for the bishops to minister to all those working with the youth of the Church. The seven bishops in attendance taught, prayed and mentored the youth ministers over the three days and were themselves inspired by the enthusiasm of participants.
Bishop Eugene Hurley, Chairman of the Bishops Commission on Pastoral Life (BCPL), expressed his gratitude to all those present, “You are the ones who support the young heart of the Church. Your role is important and the bishops of Australia want to continue to support you in this ministry” said Bishop Hurley.
He then went on to speak about the various issues facing today’s youth, offering a clear yet pastoral perspective on where the Church stood on abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and the recent sexual abuse crisis within the Church.
Young people and “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”
Visiting from the USA were Drs Bob and Maggie McCarty of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, both with more than 28 years of experience in leadership in youth ministry. Dr Bob McCarty presented the current landscape of youth ministry, offering insights on young people and spirituality, and how the Church can engage today’s younger generation.
Dr McCarty suggested that in the Post-Modern World that we live in, “young people end up with ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’, the default position for adolescent religiosity when the community’s engagement and education is weak.” He states that MTD is where youth “believe in a God who created and watches over the world; where the goal of life is to be happy and feel good.
“Upfront, this image seems OK. It becomes problematic however, because it lacks a relationship with God and others. It’s ‘feel good’ religion without demands or challenge or suffering. It’s individualistic and focused on ‘what am I going to get out of it?’ and most importantly, it lacks the communal dimension of faith: worship, justice and service, participation in a faith community. The challenge moving forward is how we can effectively engage young people in our community… Where there is a strong emotional connection to the parish there is a sense of belonging to the community. More often than not, engagement leads to spiritual commitment.”
Dr McCarty challenged participants to revisit their own understanding of Catholic teachings to assist in their witness to young people. If youth ministers, and all those hoping to engage the youth in the life and mission of the Church, are not grounded in a firm understanding of Catholicism and why they love Christ, what hope is there of effectively passing on that faith to the youth?
Another highlight of the conference was the various workshops on offer, providing a unique opportunity for those working with young people to receive formation and skills from other practicing youth ministers and teachers. Topics ranged from song writing, to youth ministry in rural areas, the development of youth programs, and ways to creatively present and discuss the Gospel with young people.
An extra boost for the ministry
Many participants from Melbourne expressed how much the conference gave them an extra boost in their ministry. Youth leader Michelle Goh shared how helpful it was to meet and network with faith-filled, like-minded young Catholics. “Building this community of mutual support for youth leaders is so critical in encouraging us [leaders] in our work. It was good to pinpoint how we must engage youth through various avenues and foster a sense of belonging and participation, which can then lead to an increase in faith. This has been my own personal experience.”
St Damian’s Bundoora youth leader Adriana Favrin said the weekend conference was almost like being at World Youth Day again. “The same spirit, life, energy, enthusiasm, and love for our faith were just truly remarkable and I am so glad that I got to be a part of it.”
On the final day, Bishop Joseph Grech, the Bishops Delegate for Youth, commissioned the participants to go out and spread the Gospel message. “You must take the passion you have for Christ to the young people of the Church. You are to ground yourselves in the scriptures. God has called each one of you to this vital ministry in the Church” said Bishop Grech.
Young Adult Ministry
Marist Young Adult Ministry developed in the early 1970s as a response to the growing need for a more formal approach to meeting the needs of young people’s personal and communal development in a Christian context.
Sponsored and overseen by the Marist Brothers of the Melbourne Province, the ministry has grown exponentially with many centres of operation and involvement and with a distinct emphasis on social justice in both the local and international context.
The Marists see their ministry with and for young people, especially encouraging ministry of youth to youth - peer ministry.
Today, Marist Young Adult Ministry actively involves over 300 young adults throughout Melbourne and touches thousands more through a myriad of events and programs. It is perhaps the largest operation of its kind in Australia and provides a number of services - formally and informally - which are not offered otherwise.
Brothers and lay people work side-by-side to keep Marist Young Adult Ministry at the forefront of youth programs.
Supporting young Australian adults in their desire to be among those on the fringes of society and together build a community of faith that is both life giving and real.
Young Adult Community
Marist Young Adult Community (MYAC) is a lay Christian Community of young adults who seek to share in the Marist spirit.
In coming together to form community, young adults commit to some active outreach work among Melbourne’s disadvantaged and marginalized people. The community is sponsored by the Marist Brothers, Melbourne Province.
Who is it for? MYAC is open to both women and men aged between 20-30 years.
Community members are asked to commit to the life and development of this intentional Christian community for 12 months from late January until December .
A minimum of 10 hours of voluntary work per week is required and placements are by mutual negotiation. Community members may be part-time or full-time students or employed. The development of the community is facilitated by a team of two.
Community location: Melbourne’s inner-north.
Finance: The Marist Brothers cover the costs of rental, maintenance and formation activities. Community members cover the costs of food, telephone and personal items.
Application and Selection: Applications in writing, see below for application form. Names of referees and reference should also be included with the application form.
The Young Adult Community is currently in temporary abeyance. It is hoped that the community might form again in 2011.
Mr Christian Nobleza
Phone: 0401 017 144
Mr Carl Muir
Ms Maddie Hellings