Youth Minister Profile – Amber Scanes

My name is Amber Scanes and I am a Youth Minister at St John Paul College in Coffs Harbour. I am 18 and graduated from St John Paul College last year.


I have always found Youth Ministry an integral part of any Catholic school. During my years of schooling, I found that the Youth Ministers had always had a profound impact on the students, myself included. So I am really thankful to the Youth Ministers who really showed me what life is like in colour, and for revealing to me the goodness of God.


I have had many incredible experiences so far being a Youth Minister. One of the ones I hold close to my heart is my immersion trip to the Philippines. I was thrown into a world far different from my own, and I was exposed to some pretty tough sights. But the one thing that kept the Filipino people so joyous, was their belief in God. They knew that He was looking after them, and they trusted in Him. As I went back to my home, I began noticing God in every little thing, and every single person I came into contact with. That truly shaped me into the woman I am to this day, and just how I Minister to the students at my school.


Through this job, I am able to see very different personalities in the students. Each one at a different step or pace in their faith journey, and each one impacts me more than they could know. The thing that I am most looking forward to this year, is to see students delve deeper into their faith and grow as young men and women. For them to realise that they are so incredibly loved and that each and every single one of them has an impact on this world. I am looking forward to seeing them become exactly who they were created to be, children of God.

CSYMU and the Ugandan Vision 2019

by Masiko Chris Beckham

It all began with the East Africa Teacher Formation Conference in 2017 and 2018 where 141 and 120 participants respectively from more than 20 dioceses across east Africa gathered in Masaka Diocese. The conference included teachers and educational leaders from Catholic schools and education offices. This ignited a burning desire in the hearts of most of the participants who wished nothing less than to start the program in their schools and dioceses.

CSYMU has had an incredible breakthrough with the grace of God. In 2019 the program was introduced in 11 dioceses all over Uganda. Holding the very first National Diocesan Coordinators’ meeting at the end of 2018 where 11 Diocesan Coordinators gathered. The key outcomes of the meeting resolved to focus on sensitization as part of the implementation process, as a way of breaking new ground  in places where the program will be introduced for the first time.

In this case initial retreats for teachers and students where conducted in the Dioceses of Soroti, Tororo and Moroto. The focus was to introduce the program to teachers and students through promoting the vision of creating Catholic schools as centers of the new evangelization and conducting recollections which focused on increasing the spirituality of participants. In Soroto Diocese one secondary school was reached, 700 students and 10 teachers trained; 7 primary schools, 18 secondary schools and 1 institution with 5,491 pupils, 6229 students and 69 teachers were respectively trained in Tororo Diocese. In Moroto Diocese, five secondary schools were reached, 2029 students and 63 teachers were trained. Leadership and teacher formation programs were also conducted in Fortportal and Kasese Dioceses where 27 head teachers and religious teachers, 15 teachers and youth leaders respectively attended. Total schools reached are 5,491 pupils, 8958 students and 184 teachers and leaders were trained during first term. In the remaining part of the year, we are hoping to have more initial retreats and formation programs being conducted as we reached out to other dioceses which are part of the CSYMU network.

On the other part of the ongoing formation for teachers and youth leaders, we are organizing our first Equipping School 2019 between Tuesday 10th to Friday 13th September 2019 in Kasana-Luweero Diocese. We hope to have between 100 to 150 participants from all parts of Uganda and some people from Kenya.


Lismore Diocese LEAD Gathering 2019

Lismore Diocese LEAD Gathering 2019

On the 14th-15th of March 145 Students, 24 Youth Ministry officers and 20 Parish Secondary Schools staff members attended LEAD at McAuley Catholic College, Grafton.

Grow. Harvest. Rejoice. was the theme of this two day gathering for senior students (Year 11 and 12) to grow in Skill and Virtue. The Welcome to Country led by local elder Dean was a wonderful start to LEAD. He got the students up to learn a dance and this really set an inclusive and engaging mood to kick off the gathering. 

There were a variety of activities the group participated in with the Connect Proclaim Respond (CPR) process being used throughout to develop workshop themes.

The activities were facilitated by the Lismore Diocese Youth Ministry Officers who shared input on themes of servant leadership, missionary discipleship and personal testimony and stories.

Lismore Diocese Worship Band, Wildfire led the praise and worship throughout LEAD with the Thursday night rally a particularly moving experience with many students appreciating and commenting on the effectiveness of adoration as a time to spend with Jesus.

“Coming together as a group of teens involved in the Catholic faith at Lead has been an eye-opener. For me, my favourite part was watching Wildfire. To be able to see young people like me sharing their ministry and expressing it through music has helped me to see that there are so many ways to celebrate your faith in a way that suits you.”  Sophie Pereira Trinity Catholic  College, Lismore
“Lead was an amazing experience, The people who went became a lot closer and we went back and started our own senior ministry team to do ministry and community work throughout the school” Jacob Smith St Joseph’s College Banora Point

Western Deanery Retreat Days

Western Deanery Retreat Days – Angela Read

On the 2nd and 3rd of April, the CSYMA team travelled out to the western deanery to run two retreats. The retreats were ran for the year 8 and year 9 year groups from McAuley Catholic Central School, Tumut, St Anne’s Central School, Temora, and Sacred Heart Central School, Cootamundra. On the 2nd of April, the year 8’s from each school travelled into Cootamundra for their retreat “I AM” – self image. Throughout the day there were three sessions The first session looked at how everyone has talents, gifts and personalities that lead to our identity and contributing factors to our identity are called labels. In the second session looked at the way we live, and act including how we treat ourselves is reflected in the way we respect and value others, and how our actions have an impact on self image. The third and final session of the day looked at how Jesus desires that we get to know him intimately. He gave his life for us because he saw our worth and through knowing this we are able to understand that we really matter.


On the 3rd of April year 9 from each school also made the trip into Cootamundra for their retreat, “Catch the Wave”. Throughout the day there were three sessions; exploring How God is Love and how humanity is created out of his love and his thirst for relationships with this God of love, the brokenness of humanity, caused by sin, is evident everywhere we look. The salvation message was explored including how God created humanity out of love from which sin entered the world through a choice away from his love, and how Jesus giving his life shows that he sees worth in us and how we realise that we matter;


Throughout the sessions over the two days we explored the session themes through dramas, personal sharings, activities and breaking off into small groups to discuss further. Overall the days were a huge success and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and were able to interact with the youth ministers through games of touch football and handball.

Youth Minister Profile – Neve Tually

Youth Minister Profile – Neve Tually

My name is Neve Tually and this year I am the Youth Minister at Merici College, and the Central Canberra Parish. I am currently 19, I live in Yass with my family and am taking a break from Uni to spend a little more time figuring out what I would like to study in the future.

Youth Ministry has always been something I knew was important – being a student at a Catholic school I had the opportunity to be a part of a Youth Ministry Team, as well as attending events such as school retreats, conferences and youth rallies. Events like these not only grew my own faith in a powerful way, but also shaped my view on the importance of Youth Ministry. A large factor in why my faith is as important to me as it is today, is the opportunities that I was provided at youth ministry initiatives in the Archdiocese. My faith is something which brings so much to my life and the opportunity to share that with others is what being a Youth Minister is all about.

Being a Youth Minister means that I get to work with people from all walks of life – each person has a different background and experience, and responds to faith in a different way. One of the opportunities in my ministry this year has been to work with the Merici Youth Ministry team in being a part of faith events in the school – the biggest of the year so far being the whole school Easter Liturgy. It was inspiring to see how the entire school participated – all the way from the students with roles to those in the audience. Working with the Youth Ministry Team to plan and lead the liturgy meant that not only did the students get to experience the faith in an interactive and captivating way, but also to share their own faith with others.

I am excited to continue working both with students in the school, and the kids and young adults in the Parish, to help to bring them into our community – to show each of them God’s love and walk with them on their own journey. Having seen in my own life what a powerful effect this type of ministry can have, I am excited to now pass that on to those around me.

St Jude’s Journeying with Jesus Retreat – Theresa Corson

Our first Journeying with Jesus retreat at St Jude’s in Holder was a great day full of both fun activities and opportunities to stop and really take the time to reflect.

Year 6 got involved in the group games and activities with enthusiasm, cheering on their peers and giving it their best shot.

When we started to explore a bit more about this idea of our journey through life, and the importance of allowing Jesus to join us on this journey, many of the students shared insights into where they were at in their own faith journey, and how they were feeling about opening their lives to Jesus more. Some shared that this was something that made them a little nervous, or that they were unsure about. Others shared that the thought of bringing Jesus into their lives more made them feel safe, happy and excited.

Students had more opportunities to share about their experiences throughout the day in smaller sharing groups, led by the CSYMA Youth Ministers from around Canberra, who came and assisted for the day. Many commented that these groups were a highlight for them.

As the day progressed, we reflected on God’s love, and how having this in our lives is a bit like taking a water bottle on a long hike – it’s essential for our wellbeing. We then talked about how God’s presence in our lives can also be like a torch, shining a clear path for us to follow through the tricky times in life. In the final session we talked about how God’s mercy and forgiveness conquers everything. We compared this to a first aid kit, and how no matter how many times we are hurt, stumble, or make mistakes, God’s healing love is always there for us.

We ended with a time of reflection, where we thought about times in our lives when we may have encountered pain, or made a mistake, and how we might like to invite God into those moments. We invited the students into an activity where they could choose to take a small stone – representative of these times – and place it in a bowl of water, representing God’s cleansing and healing love for us.

At the end of the day we invited year 6 to join the new Youth Ministry Team at St Jude’s, to which we had a fantastic response, with more than half of the students signing up. We’ve now had our first youth ministry meeting as a team and are already excited to be planning our first youth mass for the parish.

Expansion of Youth Ministry Equipping Schools

February 2019 saw an exciting new development in the national expansion of the CSYMA Youth Ministry Equipping Schools.


Following on from the Diocese of Lismore, Catholic Schools Office (CSO) sponsored YMO’s participating in Youth Ministry Equipping Schools in Canberra since 2014, the rapid growth of the YMO program within the ‘Proclaim Lismore 2013-2019’ has led to the planning and delivery of a Youth Ministry Equipping School in Lismore.


This School is conducted as a collaborative partnership between CSYMA and the CSO School Evangelisation and Catechetical Services Team (SEACS). CSO SEACS Consultant Matt de Dassel is also a volunteer member of the CSYMA National Equipping School and Youth Ministers Team.


The new decentralised approach provides a model for expansion for other Diocese’ in Australia and beyond to ensure continued program growth, addressing both the needs of localised strategic directions, while maintaining the CSYMA nationalised input and brand.

Catholic Leaders Formation Dinner

Catholic Leaders Formation Dinner
On Sunday the 3rd of March, following the 2019 Oceania Youth Ministry Equipping School the Tongan community hosted the Catholic Leaders Formation Dinner. This saw 120 international, national and archdiocesan leaders gather together for food, formation and fellowship.
Cardinal Soane from Tonga’s address was centred around Missionary Disciples: A Church that Goes Forth and saw him sharing from his life and culture in Tonga.
We also launched our ‘Forming Leaders’ series named ‘Called’ which will be conducted this year.
Looking forward to an exciting year with the Catholic Leaders Formation Network.

CSYMA National and International Leaders Training Day – Monday 4th March

CSYMA National and International Leaders Training Day – Monday 4th March


Following the 2019 Oceania Equipping School in Canberra, CSYMA National and International Leaders gathered for a day of Professional Development focused on the implementation of various aspects of the CSYMA 4 phase model. The day was represented by leaders from New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Uganda, Kenya, England and Australia. The Australian leaders came from the following Diocese: Canberra-Goulburn; Lismore; Parramatta, Broken Bay, Wollongong, Melbourne, Wilcannia-Forbes, Darwin. Apologies were received from Sandhurst and Rockhampton reps.


The day included exploring the CSYMA vision, curriculum implementation and up-dates, the Youth Ministers International (YMI) program, expansion of Equipping Schools, teacher formation strategies and sharing’s from various regions on the development of evnagelisation initiatives. The day was attended by approx. 60 participants and was a great opportunity for learning about the latest developments and also connecting and learning with other leaders from across the CSYMA network. An interesting development was the relationships built between Australian schools and overseas representatives which will see an expansion of mission opportunities in the years ahead.


Key outcomes from the day included a re-vamped student curriculum with a new suite of resources (new video packages); a comprehensive formation program for Youth Ministers and the launch of a new formation program for teachers named ‘Called’. It is envisaged that this leaders day will occur each year following the Equipping School in Canberra and include national and international leaders.

Oceania Youth Ministry Equipping School

On the 28th of February, 130 students, youth ministers and international leaders, including Cardinal Soane from Tonga, gathered together in Canberra for the 2019 Oceania Youth Ministry Equipping School.
We began by recalling what Pope Francis said at the recent World Youth Day in Panama, “With you, we want to rediscover and reawaken the Church’s constant freshness and youth, opening ourselves to a new Pentecost” which was our theme for the School. At the end of day one, there was already this buzz surrounding all of the participants.
Reconciliation and forgiveness, empowered by the holy spirit and mission was the theme of the next three days where we delved into lectures and seminars from Fr Tony Percy, Patrick McGrath, Fr Josh Scott, Sr Bernadette Toohey, Fr Dan Benedetti, Will Desmond (ENG), Peter Woods and many more.
We had time to break this open and meet new people in our small group time, which allows you to be open and share you experiences of the night sessions, lectures and seminars.
And our night sessions dive a little deeper with a testimony, talk, drama and a time for response with reconciliation, adoration and prayer teams. This allows the participants to really encounter God, and step that one bit closer to Him who placed us here.
See below some participant highlights from the Equipping School:
“Its so incredible seeing all the young people here expressing their faith with real truth and real honesty” – Gerard Teng
“Honestly it was the most life changing experience for me, it was so amazing and I would really recommend coming along” – Youth Academy Student
“The overwhelming sense of fellowship between everyone here is amazing, people from different backgrounds and experiences coming together in the Spirit and in God is amazing” – Erin Smart
We ended the Equipping School with an Archdiocesan Cultural Sharing, Youth Mass and Catholic Leaders Formation Dinner hosted by the Tongan community.
We cant wait to continue to see the fruits from the 2019 Oceania Youth Ministry Equipping School throughout the year.