Young people and youth ministers from across the country have met for the first time as the new members of the Australian Catholic Youth Council.
Meeting at the tomb of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in North Sydney, the council reflected upon the outcomes of the Year of Youth for the Church in Australia and the General Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.
Council members also highlighted the significance of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit – which was published following that Synod of Bishops.
‘Christus Vivit highlights the beauty, challenges and opportunity of young people’s engagement and leadership in the Church,’ said Ashleigh Green, a young adult and social worker with CatholicCare who was appointed to the Youth Council after representing Australia at two pre-Synod meetings in Rome.
‘It calls all People of God to renew their own lives and the Church by seeking out the young Christ in all of us.’
The council discerned key areas to focus on over its three-year term, beginning with national promotion of and engagement with Christus Vivit. It will also work on formation and resources to address young people’s mental health after it was identified as their most prominent concern in the Australian bishops’ 2017 youth survey report Called to the fullness of life and love.
Another focus will be supporting youth ministry in regional and remote areas, and helping young people integrate life and faith at a time when many societal factors are seeking to separate it.
Council members shared openly about the strengths and challenges of youth ministry with Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE, the Bishop Delegate for Youth.
‘It was wonderful to hear of the great work the council members are involved in, as well as their passion to broaden and deepen the Church’s evangelisation of young people,’ said Bishop Macbeth-Green.
‘I was struck by council members’ deep faith, competence and diverse abilities. They have an important strategic balance between the large events that connect and empower young people, and with the need for local accompaniment of each young person.
‘As we move toward the Plenary Council 2020, it becomes even more critical to invest in our young people as they are our best opportunity of bringing the Plenary Council’s outcomes to life,’ Bishop Macbeth-Green added.
The Australian Catholic Youth Council is an advisory body to the Bishop Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry. Its role is to facilitate dialogue with young people and empower their leadership and participation, while supporting the formation and strategic effectiveness of youth ministry in Australia.
Council members come from a variety of backgrounds and settings, including schools, parish, movements, communities, diocese, social services and religious orders, and from rural and urban experiences.
The new members of the Australian Catholic Youth Council are: Peter Bierer, Archdiocese of Adelaide; James Camden, Diocese of Parramatta; Sebastian Duhau, Lasallian Mission (Youth) and Australian delegate to General Synod; Ashleigh Green, Diocese of Broken Bay and Australian representative to pre-Synod gatherings; Kym Keady, Ignite Youth (Brisbane); Kate Nesbit, Lismore Catholic Schools Office; Bernadette Toohey MGL, Missionaries of God’s Love Sisters.