Sharing the challenges faced by everyone in recent months, the Youth Ministry Officers (YMOs) in the Diocese of Lismore have come up with some innovative ways to connect and continue their evangelising mission with students while not able to be physically present. Digital ministry has been the big winner as schools with an existing presence develop their strategies and those starting from scratch have found time to explore the potential of these platforms.
With students and school communities engaging with the online digital ministry in new ways, some of our YMOs have been able to use their gift of music to engage their community while others have made fun and engaging videos about life around their school during a pandemic.
Meanwhile, traditional methods have also made an impact as one school had their YMOs handwrite Easter cards that were posted home to senior students and those in the youth ministry class. What a special surprise it would have been for those students to receive a handwritten message of support in the letterbox and know that they were being thought of by their community.
In a diocese-wide initiative, a partnership with parishes and the Social Futures organisation was undertaken in a project to connect YMOs with vulnerable and elderly people in parish communities. Training was undertaken through Social Futures to prepare the YMOs as agents of connection within parish communities, focussing on communication via phone calls as well as guidelines and boundaries for making these calls. The role of the parish has been to promote the service while identifying and seeking permission from potential phone call recipients. The program is now underway with support and supervision for YMOs making the calls being provided by the Catholic Schools Office. The fruits of this ministry are promising and its life after the pandemic may be one of those unexpected gifts from God, given to those who seek to honour Him in love and service.