Youth Minister Profile – Elise O’Callaghan

By Elise O’Callaghan

Hey, my name is Elise O’Callaghan and I am a Youth Minister in the Lismore diocese and I work at Mt St Patrick College in Murwillumbah. I’m currently 18 years old and am loving life living in Kingscliff with my family! 


Being a Youth Minister for the Lismore Diocese and my school has been a dream come true!! It’s honestly the best job in the world. Being able to build so many amazing relationships with students, teachers and parishioners all while being able to share my passion for my religion and faith. I was called into being a Youth Minister to ultimately share the love Jesus has for us with everyone I encounter, to help students, not only on their faith journey but on their journey of life and through everything that school and life throws at them!


So far, an amazing part of being a Youth Minister, means that I get to meet with my Senior Youth Ministry Team  every week. This is where we plan events within our school, hang out, pray together and just talk with each other about everything and anything.  Something as simple as this is so rewarding and brings me and the students so much raw fulfillment and joy in life, which just highlights the importance of the role as a Youth Minister in any school and diocese. 


As my year as a Youth Minister at ‘Patties’ continues I hope I can continue to grow the connections I have made with the students to really impact upon their life and faith journey’s. And for those students who aren’t particularly interested in religion, perhaps spark a sense of curiosity. I’m excited to watch the students I surround myself with flourish and become disciples of Jesus within our school community and within their own lives!

Curriculum Renewal

By Lidia Galea

2019 has flown by as quickly as any other year, and once again, we find ourselves suddenly facing final exams, graduations and end of year celebrations. It has certainly been a busy year on the Curriculum Renewal front, and there have been many exciting developments.

The year began by taking stock of the 2018 curriculum review recommendations and working out the best way forward in terms of a plan to implement them. After teacher consultation, we launched straight into the project that required the most extensive work – and that was the Catch the Wave and Introduction to Youth Ministry units for Year 9 and 10 students. While we had a strong foundation to work with, it was clear the materials required a new look, more relevant content and some fresh faces. We now have a completely new and updated student work booklet, which includes over 30 new student activities and reflections, as well as optional mini-projects for the purpose of student extension. The corresponding video series has also been completely updated – drawing on some of the solid content from the original series, as well as the addition of new speakers, subjects, design work and a catchy new theme song to boot!

On a personal level, it has been an enjoyable and informative process, especially in terms of getting to know the youth ministers and the students in schools who are past or current participants in the Catch the Wave course. Over the course of the project so far, I have been reminded of the deep faith of young people as well as having been inspired by their youthful curiosity, enthusiasm and honesty; all a good reminder of why we do what we do in this space.

The curriculum renewal process is still very much a work in progress, and we now look ahead to the next stage which will be to update the Year 10 and senior units.


Fiji Times – South Pacific Equipping School 2019

Annually held in Canberra Australia, Montfort Boys Town is hosting the first South Pacific Youth Ministry Equipping School.

The Archdiocese of Suva and the Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn and Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Australia is running the event. Catholic Education director Nemani Drova’s visit to the Oceania Youth Ministry Equipping School and the ongoing effort of the Archdiocese of Suva to trim teachers and youth workers inspired him to work with his Catholic partners in Australia to hold the event in Fiji. “My two visits Australia to attend the Oceania Youth Ministry Equipping School renewed and inspired me with a vision for youth evangelisation in Fiji,” Mr Drova said.

The four day event, which began last Saturday and ends today aims to equip youth workers with skills when teaching and reaching out to the youth population he said.

“The focus on formation for mission with contemporary student, staff and parish youth ministry models provides a wonderful opportunity to be equipped for mission in our church in Fiji,” he said. Father Joe Tumavule, adviser on the way forward for the religious education seminar, said efforts had been made in the past to make schools be more holistic in teachings.

“There’s a real effort the past that the church always tried to maintain a good integration, a balance between the academic and spiritual teachings,” Mr Tumavule said.

Tonga and Samoa are the other two countries that took part in the school. Equipping youth workers across the region is the schools main aim, South Pacific Youth Ministry Equipping School co-ordinator Peter Woods said.

“The focus of the Equipping School is to train teachers ad leaders in Catholic education and to encourage our schools to be Catholic in character, especially to engage young people into the mission of the Catholic church which is t share the love of Jesus with other students and staff in our Catholic Schools,” Mr Woods Said.


Catholic Schools Youth Ministry International, is excited to see what is ahead for the Catholic education in Fiji and we look forward to continue to build this relationship.

Youth Minister Profile – Sarah Larkin

By Sarah Larkin

My name is Sarah Larkin and this year I returned as the Youth Minister working at St Vincent’s Primary School, Aranda, St Matthew’s Primary School, Page and the South Belconnen Parish. 


I am currently 20 years old and I have lived in Canberra most of my life. Alongside youth ministry I am also in my 3rd year studying a double degree in paramedicine and nursing at the Australian Catholic University. Last year I got involved in youth ministry as the first primary school Youth Minister, piloting the new CSYMA Junior program in the two primary schools. 


Youth Ministry is something that I didn’t know much about before launching into it. I have grown up in a catholic family and went to catholic schools, but I had never experienced faith through Youth Ministry as a student myself. Over my short time so far as a youth minister, I have been able to see that youth ministry is so important in helping to grow the faith of students. It is something that I wish I could have been a part of throughout my time at school. After becoming a Youth Minister, I have found my faith has grown in such a powerful way and I have been able to realize the importance of God in my own life through ministering to others. 


I love being a Youth Minister at South Belconnen because I am able to work with young primary students as well as other students and parishioners from all stages of life. 

I love being a role model for the students and being able to watch them grow into the people they are meant to be. It brings me so much joy seeing the students increase in confidence have an interest in their own faith and it makes me so excited about all of the things that they will do and accomplish in the future. 


A consistent highlight for me each week as Youth Minister in South Belconnen are the days that I get to spend working with the students. Whether it is a small conversation about their weekend, who won the handball game at lunch or deeper questions about God. I have found that building a relationship with the students makes them eager to be involved in initiatives like the school Youth Ministry Team, the Youth Groups and Masses. I love seeing the students then step up and lead prayer celebrations and retreat days because they are so capable and inspiring when sharing their faith with others.   


I am so excited to continue working with the students, staff and broader parish community as the South Belconnen Youth Minister because I have been able to see in my time so far the impact that CSYMA junior has had on both the schools and the parish.

Lismore SHINE Gathering

Shine 2019

Celebrating Youth Alive in the Church


“Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life.” These are the very first words Pope Francis writes to all young people and the wider Church in his most recent exhortation Christus Vivit. SHINE embodies this message and the 700 participants who gathered last week at St John Paul College, Coffs Harbour, for the annual Gathering left renewed and full of life.


Since 2013, the Proclaim Lismore Catholic Culture Change Program has aimed to enable students to achieve the fullness of life. This mission is inspired by the Good Shepherd’s words in the Gospel of John; Jesus accompanies us, promising to be the gatekeeper to a full life. Each year the SHINE program evolves and improves to better accompany the young participants. This year the central theme for keynotes, workshops, dramas, activities, music, small groups and prayer was ‘You Know My Name’. “I have called you by name. You are mine,” is how Isaiah articulates this truth. Who doesn’t want to be called by name; known? The “knowing” and the “naming” seem to hit that inner part of ourselves and as disoriented, forgotten or ashamed as we feel, we are precious in God’s eyes and in the words of Bishop Greg, “we must learn to love ourselves.”

The capacity and giftedness of the team was highlighted this year, with the Proclaim Lismore Wildfire band leading worship in every session. A powerful moment at SHINE was during the morning rally when a choir of students joined the band on stage to sing Psalm 23. The young people had only learnt the song in a workshop the day before, but the harmonies kindled the hearts of everyone in the hall. The Youth Ministry Officers took the lead during most of the sessions with the help of 100 senior student leaders. A refreshing variety of interactive workshops are offered each year, and 2019 additions like ‘Faith in Sport’ and ‘Looking out for your friends: Mental Health’ were very popular.


Bishop Greg’s presence at SHINE is always a highlight and we are extremely grateful for his insight and support. The accompanying teachers, Sr Dedith Moralde and members of the clergy including keynote speaker Fr Paul Gooley, offered a special layer of spirituality and guidance. The SHINE Gathering could not run without them.


The young church is alive and willing, and the SHINE Gathering will continue to celebrate the youthful Spirit in the Catholic Church for years to come.


Canberra Goulburn SHINE Gathering

A record number of students from the Archdiocese gathered at Marist College on Wednesday August 7 for the third annual Shine Gathering.

This year 520 students from 12 schools across the Archdiocese participated in the Gathering, up from 450 students last year.

Project Officer for Catholic Schools and the New Evangelisation, Nathan Galea, said he was excited by the continued growth of Shine which he described as a chance for young people who’ve chosen the Youth Ministry course to come together from all over the Archdiocese.

“We’ve got people from Pambula and the South Coast, people from around Canberra, out in the country, places like Temora and Cootamundra,” he said.

“There’s something special about when we come together and, at a time in the Church when there’s not necessarily a lot of engagement level, we know, as Pope Francis has called us, to go to where our young people are and then to call them on and to show them the gift of our Faith and what it is that our Catholic Faith has to offer.”

Archbishop Christopher Prowse, who was one of the opening speakers at the Gathering, was also pleased with the continued growth of the event and said he was proud to welcome the present and future leaders of the Church – the now of the Church.

“I’m really happy it has been organised by youth, for youth and for the evangelisation particularly of youth in the Archdiocese,” Archbishop Christopher said.

“We’re well placed to be what Christ wants us to be, to be his presence in the world today as Missionary Disciples.”

The event was a gathering of year 9 and 10 students who had chosen an elective within the Religious Education curriculum focused on the CSYMA youth ministry program.  The popularity of the elective is an indicator of the success of the CSYMA model now being implemented across the Archdiocese.

The Shine Gathering started with an introduction and Welcome to Country by Nathan Galea, a welcome from Marist College by Headmaster Matthew Hutchison and a Welcome from Catholic Education by Angus Tulley, before Archbishop Christopher addressed the students and urged them to be open to what the day had to offer.

Throughout the day, students participated in ice-breakers, workshops, singing, testimonies and a range of other activities.

The theme of this year’s Shine Gathering was “The Truth: Life = Love”.

Youth Minister Profile – Mariah Allan

Youth Minister Profile – Mariah Allan

My name is Mariah Allan and I’m one of the Youth Ministry Officers at St Paul’s College in Kempsey. I am currently 18 years of age and am a member of the Nambucca Valley Catholic Parish.

Without youth ministry I believe I would be a very different person. If it hadn’t been for my CSYMA classes and events such as SHINE and Ignite Conference, I never would have discovered the beauty of a genuine relationship with God. I am touched when students approach me and are willing to be vulnerable in order to find out more about our faith.  Having seen how God has changed my view of the world, I cannot believe that He would give imperfect me the opportunity to assist others in their search for Him, and to journey along with them.

Already this year, we have had the incredible opportunity to run a year 7 Belonging Day which was so rewarding as I got to know the new students personally.  Despite differences in beliefs, interests and experiences, I found that we all had a need in common – a thirst for something more.  What made me so delighted was seeing the senior students from our College really step up and be student disciples, leading the juniors. They adapted to unexpected changes seamlessly and led their small groups so authentically, I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better Ministry Team.

For the remainder of this year, I’m just excited for what God will do next, both in our College and with our students. We will soon be introducing the opportunity for Adoration in our College Chapel over lunchtime, which has never happened before – God is definitely creating change and I love that I’m able to witness His action first hand this year.

My faith is what sustains me when I can’t rely on myself. We have a God so open and so willing to embrace our imperfections and meet us where we are at. I love that I am able to share Jesus’ love for others in the same way that He loves me.

2019 YMI England Mission

By Olivia Brown

On the 27th of June four members of the 2019 YMI England mission team arrived at Heathrow airport to begin an 18 day mission. The first 13 days of the mission included various school visits, finishing with four days at the LNE in tickenham where the team met up with leaders in catholic education from all over the UK and there fellow Aussies from the Canberra Goulburn Diocese and the Wollongong Diocese. 

After arriving at 7:30am in London the team found their way to the grounds of Worth Abbey and spent the day getting recovering from the journey. There they met up with the fifth member of the Australian team and other key leaders for the mission. 

The team spent the first day of school visits at St pauls and Worth school getting to know some of the staff and students. Then came the weekend where the team set off to London for a 13hour tourist day with lots of photo opportunities and great food, before spending their Sunday admiring churches and planning for the coming week. 

During that week the first ever SHINE gathering in the UK was hosted, which saw selected  year 10 students from St Pauls, Worth School, Cardinal Newman and St Wilfreds come together for a day where exploring the theme of ‘Made for More’ and reconciliation, while also attending workshops on relationships, parise and worship and photography, nature and prayer. 

The weekend was spent with the Guildford Catholic parish at their annual Rooted retreat, where we presented workshops  to young people aged 10-18 about failure (Drama) and Vulnerability (Testimony). In between that and planning the team visited Brighton and surrounding towns to see some tourist attractions. 

The last couple of days of school visits were spent working on some youth ministry curriculum and lesson planning with the chaplaincy staff at st Pauls and Worth school. 

We then traveled to our final school Ursuline college in Wimbledon to spend the day with some of the girls there.  

School visits were a massive highlight for the team and saw them spending their days ministering to the students at St Pauls, Worth School, St Catherine’s Cardinal Newman, St Wilfreds and Ursuline College, exploring themes such as ‘Made for more’.

Then end of school visits didn’t mean the end of the mission, the team then moved on to London where they spent 3 days at St marys with staff from cathoic schools in the UK, looking at the new evangelisation and the roles of schools as centre for the new evangelisation. 

For me this was a highlight as it made the work we had done and the sessions we had presented in the schools feel like they were part of a bigger picture and plan for catholic education in the UK. It was great to see the enthusiasm and passion that the educators and leaders of catholic schools had for the evangelisation and growth of their young people.

As the third mission to England this particular mission saw a change to the types of sessions the team ran and the way in which they were utilised in schools.  

The past three missions have seen the CSYMI vision grow and deepen in England,  as a returning member for the three england missions I cannot wait to see what the future will hold and all that God has planned not just in England but across the UK.

Youth Ministry Profile – Tayla Ayshford

Youth Ministry Profile – Tayla Ayshford

My name is Tayla Ayshford and this year I have the privilege of being a Youth Minister at St John Paul College in Coffs Harbour and the St Augustine’s Parish. I wanted to take this year off before going to university to explore my own faith and share it with those around me.

When I was in Year 10, I joined my schools CSYMA class. This is where my faith journey started, despite being in Catholic schooling for eight years, I learned some incredible lessons about deepening my faith and what it was like to express my spirituality. I had amazing experiences at Shine that solidified that urge to really continue to grow in my faith. Throughout my senior years, I went along to many different faith-based retreats and events with my peers, teachers, and Youth Ministers. The Youth Ministers from previous years when I was still a student really helped me have the courage to express my faith and they gave me so many opportunities to learn different aspects of what being a minister is really about. From what they showed me, I wanted to give others the opportunity that they gave to me and share everything I have learned so far, since having graduated last year, about expressing my own faith when I was in their position. 

This year I have been able to participate in ministry events and retreats. It has been so incredible to see all those who are growing and experiencing faith through these events, and also bring that faith aspect into their daily lives, and learning to minister to their own peers. Along with this, me, my fellow Youth Ministers, and ministry staff were able to host the first whole school Mass at school in years. It was difficult but so rewarding to see all the students and staff celebrating the Eucharist together on the first school day of the year. I am so inspired by the students’ participation in lunch groups, early morning events, and ministry teams. I am so privileged to be able to help them in developing their faith and learning more about their spirituality and ministering.

I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity of Ministering to the Youth of not only the school I was a student at but also students all over the Lismore diocese. I am beyond excited to see what the rest of this year holds.

Youth Minister Profile – Tiarne Rogers

Youth Minister Profile – Tiarne Rogers

Hey hey everyone! My name is Tiarne Rogers and I am a Youth Minister at Newman Senior Technical College, Port Macquarie! 

I have become a Youth Minister this year for so many reasons. To minister and be ministered to! It is as simple as 123. To be able to work with students who are eager to learn more and know more about themselves and their relationship with our Lord and for them to show me ways to grow closer to our Lord. Everyday I am at the school is amazing because I am able to connect and grow with students and learn more about their lives. Being a Youth Minister has got to be the most rewarding experience I will ever have.

This year, so much has already gone on! From the Lismore Equipping School for all Youth Ministers, to the LEAD Conference in Grafton, Kairos, masses and so much more. But for me, one thing that I am able to reflect on and be so grateful for has definitely got to be the Equipping School. This is where I met all my fellow Youth Ministers from the Lismore Diocese. I remember on the first day, we all kind of just hung around who we know and on the second day, we were a big family. I am so blessed to work with such a beautiful team of young men and women of Christ, who empower, love and encourage each other.

There is a whole list of things that I am looking forward to for the remainder of this year. The Shine Gathering, Vinnie’s school sleepout, Ignite Conference, Mission Trip and more. However, the one thing that I am SO excited for would definitely be the Ignite Conference in Brisbane. This year would be my third Ignite and I feel like it just gets better and better each year. I look forward to everything Ignite has to offer each year, but the rallies are always the highlight of my experience. Being able to praise and worship the Lord in such a powerful way alongside hundreds and hundreds of young people from across Australia blows my mind and to be able to witness the Holy Spirit working through not only the young people at the conference but also myself, amazes me.

I can’t wait for the rest of the year and to continue growing my love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.