Year of Youth – Youth Minister Reflection

By Chiara Catanzariti

In this official ‘Year of Youth’, there have been tremendous strides of youth ministry in our Canberra, Goulburn Archdiocese. Connections have strengthened not only between our local schools and parishes, but for our Archdiocese as a whole. From the Coastal and Western Deaneries, to central Canberra and Goulburn, we have seen these students connect with one another in knowing they are completely supported and freed to explore, question, and grow deeper in their faith.

I have felt so supported and empowered in this year of being a youth minister, especially in seeing the advanced reception of CSYMA in our schools and parishes. The sense of God’s goodness and presence in this is evident when returning to schools to run ‘catch the wave’ retreats. A connection our team makes in one day then fostered through the teachers, school youth ministers, classes, parishes and rallies. I have continuously been moved in seeing the greatness of growth in our Secondary School’s faith culture and even amongst individual students. I know this has greatly encouraged many people to see our youth being active in their faith. When talking with them, you can easily tell how they are set apart in their realisation of self, the radiant joy and love they carry in all that they do. Without knowing it, through their own journey of faith they are changing culture by authentically living their lives in a way that radiates the love, hope and truth of Christ. From here students can’t help to share this with their peers and I have witnessed this translated from the classroom to their local parish communities.

I have continued to grow in my faith, with so many opportunities. I am so grateful for all the prayers and support from the Archdiocese. From our Chaplin’s, parishioners, teachers, students and other national youth ministry leaders we have felt so cared for and invested in. I believe there has been such a resounding yes to this as we know in the world today our young people are being continuously told many different ‘truths’ However, we are called in our outreach to share the eternal truth that they are in fact made out of love for love, that God has a undeniable purpose and plan for their lives and that God is there always waiting for us to return to Him and go forth living in the goodness, strength and mercy we receive through what He has done for us.

Thank you to all those who have been part of our 2018 ministry and I implore you to please continue in your prayers and participation of this exciting and much needed outreach to our young people in our Archdiocese and beyond.

‘Catch the Wave’ Retreat Days

Over the past few weeks some of the Canberra Goulburn Youth Ministers have been running ‘Catch the Wave’ retreat days in the Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese.

The team started with two retreat days at Daramalan College, next was St. Mary MacKillop College and we finished up with Hennessy Catholic College in Young. These retreat days saw 60% of the students wanting to join the Youth Ministry classes in their schools next year which is incredible.

What a great way to not only end this year in the Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese in terms of Youth Ministry but also this incredible Year of Youth. Check out what some of the Youth Ministers had to say about these retreat days.

“The CG Youth Ministers and I helped run our final Catch the Wave retreat for the year at Young, Henessy Catholic College. It was an incredible experience to be apart of, my highlight of the whole retreat was building the relationship with the students, but most of all seeing the response of the students during the reflection time at the end, seeing them all write a letter to themselves or somebody to reach out to. It was a very inspirational and faithful day and I am extremely happy that I was able to be part of the day.” – Sarah Pearson

“At our recent Catch the Wave retreat days I found that connecting with the students was key. Not only building these relationships because we are Youth Ministers and it’s our job but also because we want to invite them into a relationship with God, to be who they truly are in God’s eye.” – Gerard Teng

CSYMA Junior Ministry

This year we have been able to launch the primary school model of Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Australia (CSYMA) at St Matthew’s and St. Vincent’s Primary schools in the Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese. Which involves running the Journeying with Jesus retreat days.

Recently, we ran the St. Matthew’s retreat day. The Journeying with Jesus retreat was a faith-filled experience for the senior students of St Matthew’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 recently ordained Deacon Alex Osborne from St Matthew’s and St Vincent’s Parish. It was great to have him take the time out of his busy schedule to spend time with the students.

St. Matthew’s and St. Vincent’s youth minister Sarah Larkin went on to say; “Being the youth minister to help start CSYMA Junior at St Matthew’s and St Vincent’s has been an incredible experience. I have loved getting to know all of the students and being able to watch them grow and learn more about themselves and their faith in such a short amount of time. The students are so eager to be involved in all that Youth Ministry has to offer. After the initial ‘Journey with Jesus’ retreat day with the year 5 and 6 classes at both schools we were able to start up our very own Youth Ministry Team and with this new group of students, together we worked on developing relationships with God as well as helping increase the spirituality of peers through leading sacramental retreat days and teaching others about the deeper meaning of social justice fundraisers.

We held our first Youth Mass in the parish which was a great time to celebrate Mass and welcome new families into the parish, this then helped launch the new Junior Youth Group for year 3-6 students which is sure to continue growing into the future. It has been an exciting time starting up primary school ministry and it will be great to continue living out the life and mission of the church with these young students.”

We can’t wait to see the primary school youth ministry deepen and expand into the future.

Youth – Belong, Believe, Behave

Archbishop Christopher Prowse

These past weeks have been very much focused on our youth – both from local and international levels.

Internationally, the Synod of Bishops in Rome has just com­pleted its month long focus on the topic “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

Our own youth assisted in an earlier document sent from Australia to give shape to these discussions in Rome. Soon Pope Francis will gather all these reflections and publish a post-Synodal Exhortation on the topic. It will shape our youth policies throughout the Catholic world for many years to come.

Locally, we have just recently celebrated the priestly ordinations of two of our youth, Frs. Namora Anderson and Adrian Chan. It was a wonderful time for us all. My prayer is that it will encourage other young people to indicate their readiness to consider seriously a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

Then, of course, there is the beautiful vocation to marriage and family life. Remain­ing single for the Lord is another important way of responding to the Lord’s call in life. We can talk a lot about careers, and so we should, however, the deep vocational call within must also be considered high in our priorities.

Mentioning a local youth focus makes me recall a recent gathering of youth leaders from our upper Pri­mary to Middle Secondary schools in Australia’s YEAR OF YOUTH. It was part of Child Protection Week.

I was quite staggered at the mature and articulate nature of our interaction throughout the morning. There were searching questions for the Arch­bishop. At the same time there was an equally penetrating capacity to listen and respond.

The gathering was also linked to our ongoing Listening Sessions of the Plenary Council of Australia 2020/2021. I am thankful our deanery groups around our Archdiocese are participating in this vital process. Thank you so much!

Have you thought of inviting some of our youth to your sessions? Please do so. Also, don’t forget about our migrant groups. They have wonderful insights to offer.

Despite what people may say about youth in the Catholic Church in general, I want you to know that one of the most dynamic dimensions of our pastoral life at present in our Archdiocese is coming from our youth apostolate.

‘Youth speaks to Youth’ is a Gospel winning pastoral strategy that is championed by our youth leaders to their peers.

I heard recently one of our youth leaders speak of the “3Bs” necessary for Catholic Life to a room full of youth. They were captivated by his presentation.

The first ‘B’ is to BELONG. He talked of belonging to the community called Church. We cannot live life in splendid isolation from everyone else. We are social beings not individualists who think they have to “put up” with the rest of society.

The second ‘B’ is to BELIEVE. This is about opening our entire lives to the greatest of all encounters – friendship with Jesus. Making Jesus our number one is both a grace and a decision of faith. With this newfound faith the arising spiritual hunger will be fed by (re)connecting with prayer, a thorough catechesis of Catholic beliefs, and sacramental participation.

The third ‘B’ is to BECOME. We are to become the people God wants us to be – missionaries of mercy to a needy world. It must start in our family, among our acquain­tances, and then go out to the poor and abandoned of society.

It is this type of teaching from our youth leaders that is captivating so many of our youth at present. It comes from the mouths of youth to the hearts of other youth. Please pray that this continues to grow in our Archdiocese!

So in this 2018 YEAR OF YOUTH we can feel the Holy Spirit flourishing in our youth. It may be only a small spark at present, but we know in Australian summers how a fire spark can have a huge effect on the dry land.

May I remind you finally that in November we pray particularly for “our departed brothers and sisters”. This is an important responsibility for all of us in the Faith.

Let us pray sincerely to the Lord Jesus to “renew the face of the world” and start with us! For this we pray!


Sourced from Youth Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn

YMI Solomon Island Mission 2018

Youth Ministers and leaders from the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn and Lismore recently returned to Australian shores from the first Solomon Islands mission. Combining with key leaders from the Solomon Islands, including Archbishop Christopher Cardone, the team lead the mission that explored the CSYMA vision across the Solomon Islands.


The mission began with the Archbishop of Honiara, Archbishop Christopher, welcoming us into the Archdiocese. The week was spent exploring the Youth Ministry model across St. Joseph’s Tenaru, Bishop Epalle and Visale Secondary Schools that included student and teacher formation. The team ran Breakthrough Sessions and Catch the Wave Retreats that incorporated testimony, drama, icebreakers, activities and opportunities for prayer. The student leaders were formed through a Lead Conference that prepared them for ministry and mission. The week culminated with broader Church ministry in at Cathedral Parish – Holy Cross – community in Honiara.


The mission was an incredible success, with Youth Minister Hannah McMahon saying, “Entering into the first ever mission to the Solomon Islands was overwhelmingly exciting but also had a sense of nerves which came from not knowing what to expect.


“Having many highlights from this mission it is hard to bring it down to one but the school visits were incredible and on the weekend we spent time with the youth from Holy Cross Cathedral with many of them taking us to the markets, teaching us how to dance and sharing stories which eventuated into most of them joining us for Sunday Mass.”


Forming meaningful Christ centred relationships is integral to successful missions. This was evident in the relationships established with key leaders from the Solomon Islands earlier in the year at the Youth Ministry Equipping School as well as seeing the impact of the significant relationships between schools in Lismore and Honiara.


This was also a significant impact on the team, with Hannah saying “the people and culture initially being so foreign to me, quickly became such a large part of my heart. I can’t wait to continue the relationships we have built in the Solomon Islands.”


This is sure to be the beginning of an exciting new vision unfolding across the Solomon Islands. If you or your school is interested in being a part of this mission, then contact us today to find out more information.

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”