St Thomas Aquinas Springwood Parish

Youth leaders convention focuses on fellowship, formation and faith


Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
From Catholic Communications,
Sydney Archdiocese

Up to 500 Catholic youth leaders from dioceses, parishes, schools, universities, movements and religious communities across the country have signed on to participate in the upcoming Australia Catholic Youth Ministry Convention (ACYMC).

The Bishop of Parramatta, Coordinator of World Youth Day 2008 and Youth Delegate for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP will not only be one of the most anticipated speakers at the Convention but will lead spiritual formation for participants.

Bishop Anthony will talk in the context of The Year of Grace and the theme for next year's World Youth Day which is 'Rejoice in the Lord Always'.

Among the keynote speakers will be Sister Hilda Scott, OSB from the Benedictine Abbey at Jamberoo, who is possibly best known to most Australians from her role as mentor to a group of young women on the TV series The Abbey.

Father Christian Fini OM, founder and national coordinator of Oblate Youth Australia and member of the Australian Catholic Youth Council is another of the speakers.

A project of the Bishop's Pastoral Commission ACYMC 2012, will be held at the Campbelltown Catholic Club from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 September and will be hosted by the Diocese of Wollongong.

"Although the Convention is being held in Campbelltown it will be very much a national gathering with youth leaders flying in from every diocese in Australia and from every state and territory," said Malcolm Hart, the Commission's Senior Youth Ministry Projects Officer and chair of the organising committee for ACYMC 2012.

"This is only the second time we have held a Convention for those involved with youth ministry and the response has been overwhelming."

Powerful and life-changing

Australia's first ACYMC was held in Melbourne in 2010. Organised by the late much loved Bishop Joe Grech, who was the then Commission's Delegate for Youth, the event maintained and built on the momentum and enthusiasm experienced during World Youth Day 2008 as well as offering support, training and faith formation for youth leaders across the country.

"The feedback from that first Convention was extremely positive and created a wonderful sense of communion among participants no matter where they were based or what type of youth ministry they involved with," Malcolm said.

"Whether they were working for parishes or in schools or with working with youth from their religious or ecclesiastical communities, there was a sense of real fellowship. And as well as learning from the inspirational keynote speakers and wide range of workshops that were part of the 2010 convention program, those present also learned from each other."

Malcolm described the ACYMC 2010 as a great moment for the youth ministry community in Australia, but believes this year's event will be even more powerful and life-changing.

Among the broad range of workshops on offer will be two plenary interactive panel discussions and sessions with an opportunity for participants to post comments and questions via live Facebook and Twitter.

Over the past few years cyberspace has increasingly become the method of choice of young people to communicate with friends, post photographs and share their ideas. Young people today communicate by text, Twitter, Facebook or blogs with the Archdiocese of Sydney online site still one of the fastest growing Catholic social networking sites worldwide.

ACYMC 2012 workshops will also explore Youth Ministry in the School Environment, Ministry with Music, Prayer in the Classroom, Indigenous Spirituality, Social Justice, Connecting with Catholic Agencies, Youth Ministry and the New Evangelisation and Mental First Aid.

"Mental First Aid deals with mental health issues," Malcolm says explaining that mental health concerns among young people is something everyone involved with a youth ministry will encounter.

"We wanted to provide resources to recognise mental health difficulties in young people and what to do and where to obtain immediate help for the teenager or young person.

In addition to the workshop, the de La Salle Brothers will give a special presentation and talk about Kids Help Line founded by the Brothers which is now in its 20th year of operation.

"They will present research and information obtained from those who access the service and the key issues," Malcolm said, pointing out that teenagers are particularly prone to depression, thoughts of suicide and other mental disorders.

Visit the ACYMC site

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