Since its introduction in 2016, more than 3000 Catholic primary and secondary students have celebrated, explored, and engaged in their faith through a growing number of worship, and spiritual encounters provided by the Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW), in collaboration with Catholic Youth Ministry Wollongong (CYMW).
A review of the CEDoW Youth Ministry strategies and initiatives is currently being undertaken to ensure that the vibrant and creative methods of communication—developed to evangelise and engage a growing number of young adults and children with their faith in CEDoW schools—continues.
Led by Br Damien Price, the review will evaluate current practices, explore the impact of Youth Ministry initiatives across the diocese, and provide recommendations for future implementation and initiatives to Bishop Brian Mascord.
In addition to its ongoing commitment to Catholic education, the Catholic Church in Australia has a rich history in the ministry and the evangelisation of young people - empowering them to live as disciples of Jesus in today's world.
As the Diocese continues to bring to life the vision of Youth Ministry described in the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Anointed and Sent document, the CEDoW Youth Ministry program has experienced a dramatic shift of focus.
Administered through a partnership between the Office of the Bishop and Catholic Education, the CEDoW Youth Ministry program has grown significantly over the past five years. From a small number of LIVE Night events held in a few secondary schools throughout the diocese, the program now delivers a range of faith-based experiences for students. These include participation at the Australian Catholic Youth Festivals, LIVE festival for Years 9 to 12 students, in-school LIVE nights and ENCOUNTER days run by the National Evangelisation Team. The program has also been extended to include ACTIVATE fire encounter days, which offers a day of spiritual reflection for Year 6 students.
CEDoW Education Officer for Youth Ministry, Joel Duval, said CEDoW schools are doing incredible work engaging young people with their faith.
“LIVE nights have been a big part of the Diocesan Youth Ministry initiatives and the beginning of 2020 saw some of our largest numbers yet,” said Mr Duval. “When Mount Carmel Catholic College, Varroville had their first LIVE night back at the beginning of 2017, 31 students attended, which was huge. At their first LIVE night this year, Mount Carmel had a record-breaking 152 students voluntarily attend the LIVE night after school.”
Another highlight of the CEDoW Youth Ministry program was the fourth annual LIVE event held at WIN Entertainment Centre in August 2019. The event saw over 600 young people come together to encounter Jesus in a festival atmosphere that included live music, workshops, a DJ, food trucks, merchandise stalls, games, and activities.
The review of the CEDoW Youth Ministry strategies and initiatives is sponsored by Bishop Brian Mascord, who welcomes any recommendations for future initiatives and ongoing implementation of the program.
“Here in Wollongong, we strive to always and everywhere provide opportunities to encounter Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Brian. “And we always try to do that in the most engaging, inspiring and moving way possible, and constantly with a spirit of excellence, professionalism, safety, and love that is open to the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
“This plan for youth ministry presents a framework for the realisation of the vision of the diocese and will be used as a guide for all involved in assisting me in carrying out my mission, received from Christ, to teach, sanctify and shepherd all within this diocese and beyond.”
The review is expected to conclude by November 2020.
Photographs by Daniel Hopper and Jeremy Yuen from the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong.