YMI Uganda Mission 2018

On the 8th of September, a CSYMA team of Youth Ministers and leaders set off for the fifth Uganda Mission in anticipation of what the next two weeks would bring. When they arrived, the CSYMA Team combined with key CSYMU (Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Uganda) leaders for the mission.

The first phase of the mission was the East-African Teacher Formation Conference began with nearly 150 teachers and Church leaders from 15 Dioceses across Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya gathering in Masaka, Uganda. The Conference inspired teachers and leaders to create centres of the New Evangelisation in our Catholic education system whilst deepening their own faith grounded in a renewal of their vocation as teachers.

This lead into the school visits that presented the basic Gospel message to about 5000 students across five days in the Dioceses of Lira, Kasana – Luweero and Kampala.

The team were also involved with mercy eorks including the Masaka Women’s Prison, Kampiringisa Juvenile Detention Centre and Nsambya Babies Home.

Overall, it was a powerful mission and we are looking forward to deepening our connections with Uganda in the future. Olivia Niethe said, “with a mind purposefully absent of expectations, I was innocently unaware of the profound impact the next two weeks would have as they so tangibly revealed the love, joy and peace that is God.
This was revealed through the three main components of the mission trip: the East African Teacher’s Formation Conference, School Visits and Mercy Works, which each though unique in their own experience are inseparable to the overall power of the mission. Throughout the entirety of the mission having the opportunity to connect with others be it a teacher from South Sudan, a member of the Uganda Team, a child at the Juvenile Detention Centre, a group of students, a prison guard or a baby cradled in your arms, touched my heart. Through the people of Uganda, I became totally and completely wrapped in a love, joy and peace, and in this my heart found home.”

With the CSYMI vision deepening across Uganda, including the recent support of the National Education Secretariat, it will be incredible to see the East African region continue to bring youth ministry to life across their Catholic schools. Returning to Uganda again meant maintaining the relationship that has been cultivated over a number of years. Returning CSYMA Youth Minister, Hannah McMahon, captured this when she said that “returning to a place that holds such an incredible place in my heart I had no idea what to expect – however God provided exactly what my heart desired without even realising I needed it. With my highlight being able to witness the joining of two completely different people and cultures through the undeniable everlasting love of Jesus Christ.”

CSYMA cannot wait to return in 2019 and beyond.

CSYMA Northern Territory Mission 2018

On the 16th of September the CSYMA Mission to the Northern Territory began with CSYMA students, YMA Youth Ministers and teachers from the Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn led by Nathan Galea stepping out and saying yes to what was going to be an incredible mission filled with joy, love and God.

The Ministry Trip to the Northern Territory, Darwin and the community of Nauiya (Daly River), created an opportunity to engage in dadirri, deep listening and silent awareness. In our first gathering with Miriam Rose Ungunmerr, she expressed the significance of being welcomed to Country and the importance of awakening the spirit child within each of us.  The welcoming ritual within the Daly River, including the use of water to awaken our inner spirit, was an experience filled with unexplainable emotion, an experience that created an immediate bond with the people and the land. I could never accurately describe in words the feeling, and put this down to developing a simple sense of dadirri, a still awareness, an inner peace to be present to the world around me.

During our time in community, we were blessed with the presence of Agnes, Troy and Louise as we headed out “bush”. It was a privilege to be immersed in story, culture, ritual and building relationships with the people and land. The experience validated a centrally held belief of the beauty of the indigenous people and culture of our nation, one that counteracts the image portrayed by mainstream media.

What was truly inspiring on this trip was watching the CSYMA students be true witnesses of faith. Pope Francis encouraged young people to ‘build bridges not walls’, to be ‘courageous and free’, and that is exactly what these young people did for the entire time. They were open to their faith, to each other and to all those they met. Their energy was palpable and their ability to share their stories in light of their faith was moving. This ministry trip empowered the young people to grow personally and spiritually, participate in the life of the Church through mission and be able to express hope for a better future for all.

CSYMA at Ignite Conference 2018

CSYMA was excited to recently partner with the Ignite Conference for the fifth year as it gathered over 1500 young people gathered for four days stepping out in faith. It was incredible seeing that over 400 of these young people were in or had been in the CSYMA program as well as a number of Youth Ministers who were a part of the CSYMA Youth Ministers Australia network.

One of these Youth Ministers from Canberra and Goulburn, Sarah Larkin, said that “as a Youth Minister having a deep relationship with God is the most important thing and heading to Ignite Conference 2018 filled us up in every way we needed.”

The Conference included incredible keynotes from Fr Rob Galea (Stronger Youth), Ben Woodman (Youth Alpha), Justine Combo (NET Australia), Brendan Malone (Focus on the Family) and so many more.

On the last night rally it was announced that Ignite Conference will be heading to Sydney next year for the first time. This gives CSYMA schools another opportunity to engage with this incredible initiative.

Sarah finished off her reflection of the Conference saying that “it helped me to explore and learn more about my faith. I have found that having a relationship with God is the most important thing and the Conference has showed me there are so many different ways to worship, pray and express our faith which I can’t wait to bring back to my CSYMA ministry. It was so incredible seeing so many passionate young people coming together to celebrate God!”

Lismore Diocese – SHINE 2018

Matthew de Dassel

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be full.” John 16:24
An exciting and adventurous renewal of Catholic Identity and Mission has been happening across the 46 Parish Schools within the Diocese of Lismore since 2013. Proclaim Lismore 2013-2020 continues to focus on building stronger Catholic cultures among parish school staff, parents and students.
A key aspect to this renewal is the Student Discipleship Continuum, a series of retreats and faith nurturing experiences from Year 5 through to Year 12. The largest of these, the annual SHINE Gathering, took place again in August. Over 700 students, staff and clergy from across the Diocese of Lismore assembled for the seventh SHINE Gathering which was held at St John Paul College in Coffs Harbour. The gathering brings together CSYMA students from years 9-12 and consists of two days of presentations, rallies, workshops, discussions, music, Mass and Reconciliation.
The presence of Bishop Homeming provided a highlight for all those present this year with a large contingent of Clergy joining him for the concelebration of Mass, while the launch of the home-grown Proclaim Lismore Worship Band indicated that the Diocese has the talent and commitment to produce quality contemporary youth praise and worship music.
Other highlights from the gathering included emmanuelworship; keynote addresses from Pat Keady and Emma Fradd; and input from the Youth Ministry Officers who are a part of the CSYMA Youth Ministers Australia network. An inspirational faith aspect was to see the Thursday evening praise and worship rally featuring lively contemporary Christian music, transition gradually into silence and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The participation of students as small group leaders, workshop presenters, master of ceremonies, testimony givers, drama performers, multimedia makers, readers, and the welcoming party bench-marked the success of current peer-to-peer ministry. Overall it is a time to rejoice in the Diocese of Lismore as a movement of the Holy Spirit brings renewal of so many students in their faith.

Journeying with Jesus – St Vincent’s Primary School

By Sarah Larkin

On Tuesday the 28th of August, history was made at St Vincent’s Primary School Aranda with the first ever Journey with Jesus retreat held for years 5 and 6 students!

The Journey with Jesus retreat was a faith-filled experience for the senior students of St Vincent’s Primary school. The day was packed with games, activities, dramas, videos and talks that all looked into the Gospel messages of God’s love, salvation, and forgiveness.

We had an incredible team of youth ministers from the Canberra and Goulburn archdiocese to lead the day. We were also grateful to have a special visit from Fr Simon and seminarian Alex Osborne from St Matthew’s and St Vincent’s Parish. It was great to have them take the time out of their busy schedules to spend time with the students.

We spent the day learning about what we need in life for our journey with Jesus. Using a backpack full of items, we learnt that on a journey we need a water bottle to represent how essential God’s love is, a torch to represent salvation shining light into our lives and a first aid kit to represent healing and forgiveness.

At the end of the day the students were able to reflect and respond on their journey so far. We entered into a time of prayer and it was beautiful to see the students coming forward with open hearts to invite Jesus into their lives.

As the Journey with Jesus retreat day ended, it became clear that this is just the beginning for youth ministry in primary schools and we cannot wait to see what God has planned for us!

After such a great day here’s what some of our year 5 and 6 students had to say:

“I thought it was just going to be a day of bonding with other people but it turned out to be a day bonding with God. I felt really welcomed by the Youth Ministers, I left thinking that youth ministry is something that I definitely want to do.”

“My favourite part of the day was learning about the backpack and what you put into it for Jesus’ journey”

““I felt pretty excited that I’d get to learn and experience new things about religion. My favourite part of the day was the dramas, they were quite funny but also had a lot of meaning to them.”

“I was really nervous because we don’t usually mix year 5 and 6 together but I felt welcomed when we arrived because when we were coming into the hall everyone was there, the Youth Ministers were smiling at us and it felt good. When the day ended I felt really sad because I wanted to do some more activities, I just thought it was so much fun”

“My favourite part was the reflection at the end of the day with the candle because they were pretty and I can take them home to shine God’s light in my room”

Canberra SHINE Gathering 2018

The skies were grey but the faces shone as over 450 young people from across the Archdiocese gathered at Marist College on Monday to experience the Shine Gathering.

The event was a gathering of year 9 and 10 students who had recently chosen an elective within the Religious Education curriculum focused on the CSYMA youth ministry program.  Though not compulsory, the elective is something some students have chosen to do after participating in a Catch the Wave retreat run by Youth Ministers earlier this year. A real fruit of the CSYMA model now seeking to be implemented across all schools in our Archdiocese.

Project Officer for Catholic Schools and the New Evangelisation, Nathan Galea said he was tremendously encouraged by the turnout of young people keen to find out more about their faith.

“At a time in the church where we have about a three per cent participating rate at Mass on the weekend, and here we’ve got nearly 500 kids who are stepping out to look at what this whole thing is about Jesus, and what the gift is of our faith, it’s a pretty exciting time in our Archdiocese and I feel like there’s a real Grace that something’s at work here,” he said.

The day consisted of a range of events, from ice-breakers, to workshops, testimonies and proclamations of young people sharing their life stories.

Many of the students particularly appreciated the opportunity to mix with students from other schools, and other regions.

One of the key aspects of the event was that it wasn’t the end point of a process, and many teachers were excited to head back into the school with this momentum, and with the model in the schools for them to take the next step.

Mr Galea thanked the Archdiocese Youth Ministry, all of the schools and the teachers involved for their ongoing examples in faith and for assisting to make the event a reality.

“We especially want to thank Marist College for their hospitality in hosting such a huge event, and to have it in the middle of a day when school’s in operation… we’re very grateful for that,” he said.


LNE Equipping Teachers and Leaders for Mission

The ACU Graduate Certificate Education: Leading the New Evangelisation (LNE) was conducted from Friday 17 August (evening) to Sunday 19th August at the St Christopher’s Pastoral Centre in Canberra. This is the second time the course has been offered and immediately followed the Catholic Leaders Formation Symposium on the Friday. The LNE foundation Unit completed over the weekend was ‘Faith Formation and the New Evangelisation’.

The cohort consisted of over 40 students from various parts of Australia, including a group from the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn. The face-to-face component included lectures, seminars and a ‘Porta Fidei’ retreat experience conducted in the evening which was a key feature of the Unit. This combining of a formation experience with academic input helped create an effective community learning context and laid a solid foundation for the content and skills covered. It was an exciting weekend of learning about evangelisation, equipping participants for the mission of the Church.

Here is what some participants said:

‘The LNE unit provided an opportunity for a personal encounter with Jesus. It was an opportunity to learn more, to deepen and experience the love of Jesus alive in each of us’    -Renata Powell REC Newcastle Diocese

‘LNE is an important formation that enables teachers and those involved in evangelisation to understand their co-responsibility for this task.’   – Luke Maher REC

‘The unit built upon my previous leadership experience and confirmed what is important in my vocation and mission’       – Adam Nolan Principal

‘The LNE experience helped me to synthesize the calling of teachers in their vocation of RE in an ever changing world with practical ideas and skills’    – Elspeth Secondary Teacher

‘It was invigorating both personally and professionally, re-igniting the passion to bring mission to my staff and school…It has given me direction to lead the school academically and spiritually’               – Sasha Cody REC


England Mission 2018

Over the past two weeks, CG Youth ministers joined with Youth Ministers from around the country to participate in the 2018 YMI England Mission. It was an exciting opportunity to share the growing Youth Ministry vision in the Archdiocese with Diocese across England.

Departing on the 1st of July, the team set off for England with nervous anticipation of what the next two weeks would hold. Arriving in England with an eagerness, the team spent the next day preparing the sessions for the week of school visits. The first week saw the team visiting the two schools which will be starting the Catholic Schools Youth Ministry England program in their next school year, Worth School and St Paul’s Catholic College. The team ran an initial retreat day called ‘Catch the Wave’, LEAD days with the senior students which developed a vision for their team, and multiple one hour blast sessions which focussed on the basic Gospel message.

The weekend saw us being involved with the local Wellspring Community, where the team attended their Young Adults group and barbeque after Sunday mass. It was incredible being around a community that was so interested in what the team was doing but also getting to hear the Youth Ministry initiatives that were happening in their own community.

The next week saw the team visit three more schools, Cardinal Newman, Ursuline High School and St. Teresa’s Effingham, where they ran more one hour blast sessions for their students, it was incredible to see the eagerness from not only the students but also the teachers.

All up it was an incredible mission where we reached about 3000 students, launched Youth Ministry programs that are being implemented in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn across five different schools and brought 12 Youth Ministers into the Youth Ministers International Network.


“I loved this experience of mission, particularly in the school visits because it was so inspiring to go into a school where the seed of Youth Ministry had not yet been planted, but by the end of the day you can see that seed growing and how excited and hungry the students are to see and know God.” Emily Cariss, Youth Minister

“The England Mission experience was incredible and challenging for my faith. I focused on being more intentional with spending time in individual prayer along with team prayer, spending time reflecting on how God is working in my life, as well as being more proactive to make more and more time to spend with God everyday.” Anna Cardwell, Youth Minister

“The England Mission was an awesome experience and a great opportunity for me to grow as a person and in faith. My highlight of the Mission was getting to know the students at all the schools we visited.” James Bertalli, Youth Minister

Catholic Leaders Formation Symposium

On Friday the 17th of August, 140 teachers and church leaders from across Australia gathered in Canberra to discuss new initiatives around teacher and Church leaders formation, including presenting the vision of the Catholic Leaders Formation Network (CLFN). The day started with all participants entering into prayer which was used from the CLFN ‘Formed in Prayer’ weekly resource.

The theme for session one was ‘Opening New Horizons in the Year of Youth’ and focused on sharing the youth evangelisation vision in the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn.   Teachers and CSYMA Youth Ministers spoke about events such as the student SHINE gathering and LEAD conference, which has seen 800 students gather together this year. Chris Tran, a year 12 Marist student shared his experience of the 2018 Oceania Youth Ministers Equipping School including encountering the Holy Spirit. Huw Warmenhoven spoke about his journey into the mission and life of the church and Hannah McMahon shared her experience of the four phase model through school and now as a youth minister.

This was followed by a dynamic and inspiring presentation from Archbishop Christopher Prowse speaking about journeying with young people, being Jesus centred leaders, kerygmatic people and open to the work of the Holy Spirit. All evangelisation is God’s work.

The theme for session two was ‘Faith Formation of Teachers and Leaders’. Professor Br. David Hall FMS (Dean of the ACU La Salle Academy) gave a dynamic, engaging and humorous presentation on this critical theme. Participants were excited about Br David’s presentation on formation of educators and leaders today.

The day included seminar sessions on a new CSYMA primary school model of formation called Junior; New Teachers and  Leaders Formation Programs and Post School Youth Ministers including pathways from school to church. These seminars gave the participants many new ideas which were explored more in conversation over lunch.

The day included a listening session, reflecting on what the Holy Spirit is asking of us at this time – points on the plenary wall (pictured below). Fr Tony Percy ended the day presenting on the ‘change of era’ theme and Peter woods outlined the vision of the Catholic Leaders Formation Network.


Here is what some participants said:

‘It reinforced what I knew but also sparked new ideas for me and youth ministry in my school…Br David Hall was awesome.’

‘The Symposium day was inspiring and dynamic to hear the youth’

‘The Symposium gave a vision that strengthened my view of the importance of encountering God in my life and how through this encounter, God can hold an important place in the life of others…all of the speakers were inspiring’

‘The opportunity to gather with leaders across education and Church into a collaborative community was a key feature and holds great promise for the formation of leaders in our Church today’



JPC Catch the Wave!

By Hannah McMahon

On Tuesday the 19th of June, St John Paull II College in Canberra had their first ever Catch the Wave retreat for the Year 9’s!

We ran the day in 2 sessions, both with approximately 70 students in each. The sessions focussed on the analogy of ‘catching the wave of faith’.

We had a team of 6 youth ministers from the Canberra and Goulburn Diocese. The team did an amazing job running the day – with some fantastic icebreakers, dramas, personal sharings, talks, activities and small groups. We were so thankful to have Deacon Namora from Holy Spirit Parish come and visit too!

The excitement started with some engaging icebreakers and a charade. The open and positive attitude of the students was exemplified from early in the day when some brave year 9 students put their hands up to perform the charade in front of their peers! We then performed a drama, and as the youth minister of St. John Paul II I gave a personal sharing. Jordan Hodge finished this session with a talk focussed on the theme ‘Follow = Come + Go’.

Finally the students had a time to reflect and respond. There was an opportunity for them to come forward for a blessing from the youth ministers. It was incredible to see majority of the students come forward for this blessing, and being open to ‘catching the wave of faith’.

A massive thank you to everyone that was involved in the day especially the youth ministers from Canberra Goulburn and the teachers from St John Paul II College. I can’t wait to see the year 9’s in their Youth Ministry classes next semester!