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!





More than a Selfie

by Jemarnie Orge

You’re more beautiful than your selfie.

Our beauty is not defined by a selfie, no matter how good the lighting might be, how great the camera quality is or if you took the picture with an iPhone or an Android.

Beauty is more than an image of your face from one angle.

As cheesy and as cliché as it sounds, it is true when people say that a person is equally as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. Beauty can come from within, instead of outward appearances, but this concept can be forgotten. In a selfie, you can’t visually see what makes a person beautiful on the inside. Rather, it can be witnessed by people you meet face to face.

Real beauty can come from within your heart. It can come from positive thoughts, it then can evolve when you are genuinely happy for yourself and others, it can be born from a place of self-acceptance, selflessness and compassion. It can appear when you are your authentic self.

We are made in the perfect image of God. God poured his heart and soul into crafting us, his wonderful masterpieces. To deny our beauty and limit it to a selfie is to deny God and his creation.
















What matters in Ministry

by Katie Golding

On the 13th of May at 5:30pm, families from all around the Belconnen Region gathered together for a youth mass at Saint Michaels Church, Kaleen. This was the first youth mass for Saint Michaels church and it was great to see so many new faces in the parish. As a youth minister, it is sometimes easy to get caught up in all of the technicalities of organising an event. I was stressing before the mass wondering if everyone was going to arrive on time and if they would know when to stand up and read their parts. Although as soon as the mass began I felt peace knowing that it doesn’t really matter if any of the youth volunteers made a mistake. What matters is that they were excited to go to mass to come together and pray and be a genuine example that there are youth in Belconnen living out the life and mission of the church.

After the youth mass I was speaking to local parishioners who were ecstatic that the initiative had taken place and saw a need in the parish for it to continue. I couldn’t agree more! My goal is to have a reoccurring monthly youth mass at Saint Michaels Church and the youth mass last month laid a very promising foundation.

An Abundance of SPIRIT

The cold Canberra morning was not enough to deter young people from across Canberra-Goulburn gathering together for the SPIRIT retreat.

It was hard to hear above the laughter and chatter as Youth Ministers and participants got to know each other first thing in the morning. Alannah Hodge, one of the Youth Ministers, said that “one of my favourite memories from the day was playing a massive game of Uno with the participants, where the room was filled with laughter”. She explained that “the SPIRIT retreat broke open the theme of ‘encountering the Holy Spirit’”.

Throughout the day, the themes of God’s Love, The Gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit were explored through talks, testimony, small groups and drama. The participants were invited to respond to the messages through reconciliation and adoration. Alannah highlighted that “to see the room full of excitement be stilled by Adoration and worship was inspiring”.

St. Benedict’s Church in Narrabundah was standing room only as the participants of the SPIRIT retreat joined the parish community for 6pm mass. The community cohesiveness is one aspect of the retreat that Chiara Catanzariti, the St. Benedict’s Youth Minister, really noticed about the day.

“The Spirit retreat was a huge outpouring of God’s grace not only for the participants during the day but also for the leaders and community where we could see the tangible movement of the Holy Spirit from the retreat later in the mass when we gathered as one body.”

“It was a joy to see the youth move deeper in their desire for our Lord in all aspects of their life…” she said.

“The retreat affirmed for many the real loving nature of God and how when we, His beloved, invite Him into all parts of our life we don’t have to fear that we will be changed but instead the truth that we will be bought to the fullness of who we were created to be.”

Blog: Adoration 101

by Hannah McMahon

YMI Youth Minister (Canberra-Goulburn)

Adoration has this vast peace that the world can not give. It is as though I am in a balloon of grace. All of the anxieties, weights and pressures that I am carrying on my shoulders seem to disappear when I enter into adoration. When I leave, I feel nothing but peace and reassurance.

I still remember the very first time I went to adoration, I had no idea what I was doing and if I was doing it right. Have you ever gone to adoration, felt like you weren’t doing it right? Felt like you were failing? I can tell you now, that you aren’t the only one! I have come up with three points to help you when it comes to entering into adoration:

  1. DON’T COMPARE: There is no ‘right way’ to enter into adoration. It is your own personal time with God, and He is happy you are there with him. So don’t compare the way that you are spending your time in Adoration with how other people are, because their relationship with God is completely different to yours.
  2. PRAY: There is something so extraordinary about praying in Adoration, whether it be a formal prayer or a conversation with God, I encourage you to try it. St. Josemaria Escriva said “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” Bring your rosary beads and pray, because all of God’s graces pass through Mother Mary.
  3. BE OKAY WITH SILENCE: Sometimes silence can make us feel uncomfortable, that we have to fill it with something. But it is okay to be silent. It will bring you an overwhelming sense of peace to just sit in the presence of God.

I am often so caught up in the busyness of life that I hardly find myself in Adoration, but in fact it is those who can’t find time for prayer that need to pray the most, because it is like any relationship, you have to find the time to spend with God.