Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment – 2018 Part 1

Last week in the bulletin (7 Jan 2018) we included part of a report of a survey offered to young Catholics last year to help prepare an Australian response to the forthcoming Synod of the Church, discussing the above topic. Following is another extract from that response, following on from last week:

THE IMPACT ON YOUNG PEOPLE: Along with the changes in the religious landscape, the Church’s significance as the centre of local community life has declined at the same time as people’s mobility and reliance on electronic forms of communication has increased. Young people are faced with a rising level of secularisation and materialism in the Australian society. Social media and main-stream media influences often conflict with the teachings of the faith. In addition, the Church’s teachings seem increasingly irrelevant to contemporary forms of relationships and do not support an individualistic way of working and living, so that the importance of religion has greatly decreased in many people’s lives. One of the challenges is also the variety of approaches to faith and church practice. On the one hand, there are those who adhere to traditional devotional, liturgical and hierarchical styles. On the other hand, there are those who place more emphasis on being Catholic within the world, in dialogue with others.

Rural dioceses face unique challenges in their ministry to young people. Going to Mass and attending youth groups is not very easy due to the large distances, the absence of regular weekend Mass and a lack of parish resources. The movement of young people to larger towns and cities sometimes creates a changed relationship with the Church and community. The Church can sometimes be seen as part of their childhood and not part of their daily life as they move to a new location and commence as adults. Individuals often return to their home parish for special moments such as a child’s baptism or a funeral but, due to the separation from the faith community of their childhood, they cease to engage in Church and have an ongoing faith life.

There are also challenges in ministering to migrant youth, with differently tailored youth programs needed for those who are born in Australia and new arrivals from overseas. These two groups of young people are distinct in their mentality, needs and also their choice of spoken language. For example, in the Chaldean diocese, some youth still speak only Chaldean and Arabic and struggle with English. This makes it a challenge to have an event that suits everyone. Indigenous Australians also face greater challenges with issues of equality and a lack of educational and work opportunities.

 Additional challenges for young people, as identified by both young people and the wider Church, include the breakdown of family relationships and an increase in domestic violence; the negative effects of social media (including cyberbullying, the need for constant connection and the resulting rewiring of how young people now think) and a lack of self-esteem and concern about what the future may hold for them. Another challenge is the over sexualisation of entertainment, advertising and media. This exposure to explicate concepts normalises the use of pornography, which leads to many different social challenges.

 Finally, the recent Royal Commission inquiry into the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Australia has had serious repercussions in many communities. The legacy of child sexual abuse in some dioceses has tarnished not only the institution of the Church but also anyone who remains an active member of its community. There is a general loss of trust in society’s institutions and leaders, including the Church. In some places, priests refrain from visiting schools as they used to. There is a perception that the Church has lost the moral high ground.

Sections Two and Three of this report provide further details on the challenges faced by young people and the responses provided by vocational programs, pastoral care workers and youth ministries in Australia.  

Parishioners might be interested to read more of this report on the Australian Catholic Bishops’ website:




The Sunday morning masses on Christmas Eve, would usually be at both 9:00am and 10:30am. However, with the Christmas Masses this year starting at 6:00pm Sunday evening, the thought was we’d combine the two Sunday morning masses into one, to be celebrated at 9:30am, the same time as Christmas morning mass.

The weekend Masses therefore will be:

23 Dec – Saturday vigil mass at 6:00pm

24 Dec – Sunday morning Mass at 9:30am.

SOUP KITCHEN PROJECT (updated 18 Nov 2017)

Soup Kitchen Update (18 Nov 2017): The meeting to consider the beginning of a “Soup Kitchen” type project in our parish was held on Thursday evening in the hall. About 30 parishioners attended. This project could give parishioners a way to respond to the Holy Father’s call for us to be a church for the poor, meeting a need in our community. There are many, varied roles involved in such a project and all can play a part. A working party was established to take this project forward under the leadership of Jane Parsons. The working party will report back, likely in the early new year.

On Thursday 21st September, 3 members of the Parish Pastoral Council, Siji, Gerald and myself travelled to Traralgon to observe first-hand the feasibility of setting up, coordinating and running a ‘Soup Kitchen’ in our Parish, for our Community.

Mick’s Kitchen in Traralgon is an outreach program of St. Michael’s Parish, organised and run by the parishioners. Parishioners there readily responded to help those less fortunate than most people in the parish. There are many varied roles involved and we all have different gifts to use.

As a result of our visit, a parish meeting has been planned for Thursday 16th November commencing at 7:30pm to discuss whether a Soup Kitchen might work in our parish and community. On behalf of Fr. Bernard and the Parish Pastoral team together with Parish Pastoral Council, I personally invite you to attend this meeting to offer and discuss both our thoughts and your thoughts and ideas. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Jane Parsons.

Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017

The Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) is a national gathering of Catholic young people established by the Australian Catholic Bishops. It exists to provide young people with opportunities to deepen their relationship with Jesus, be empowered to be disciples in the world today and encounter and celebrate the vitality of the Church in Australia.

The Archdiocese of Sydney is hosting the event in Sydney from December 7th-9th 2017 on behalf of the ACBC. The Festival receives collaborative support from the agencies of the Archdiocese, and greater Sydney dioceses of Broken Bay, Parramatta and Wollongong.In December 2017 the Festival will launch the Year of Youth, celebrating ten years on from hosting World Youth Day 2008.

The Sydney theme will be: “Open New Horizons For Spreading Joy: Young People, Faith And Vocational Discernment”. The theme draws inspiration from Pope Francis’ address to young people at the Vigil at WYD Krakow 2016, along with the theme chosen for the next General Synod to be held in Rome during 2018. Pope Francis continues to challenge the young people of the world to boldly engage with their faith, their relationship with Jesus and the world.

It would be great for our parish for some of our young people attend the Festival. We would have to support them financially to do so.

Working With Children Card – How it all affects us.

Promoting Child Safety – Child Care: New legislation has been introduced in the State of Victoria in the interests of promoting child safety.

One of the requirements is that all volunteers over the age of 18 are required by law to have a Working With Children Card or current Teacher Registration. This applies to all organizations in Victoria including for example sporting clubs, hobby clubs, social clubs, service organizations (St Vinnies), churches etc.. It requires quite a major effort for every organization to meet the requirements. But meet them we must. This is in the interest of our children.

Consequently, all volunteers in the parish are required to attain a Working with Children card. This includes collectors, cleaners, all choir members and all musicians over the age of 18, funeral caterers, welcomers, readers, ministers of the Eucharist (over the age of 18) those working in the Piety stall, children’s liturgy of the word, RCIA people, catechists, youth group leaders, parish councilors.

For help with obtaining your card, or updating details on an existing card, please see Kath after mass in the foyer. There is no cost involved in obtaining a card.

New Parishioners – “The Welcome Table”

The Welcome Table: Once a month we will have a “Welcome Table” in the Church foyer. New comers to the parish who have not met the parish staff and have not registered as parishioners will be invited to visit the table and register.

There are so many new parishioners arriving in the parish that it is difficult to spot everyone and we do wish to meet, greet and welcome every new comer to the parish. Any new arrival who has not had contact with the parish leaders will you please visit the table after mass.