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Year of Youth program kicks off with successful Q&A

St Patrick's College, Gympie, students meet Bishop Ken Howell at the Year of
Youth Q&A session

SENIOR students from Catholic schools and colleges across Brisbane Archdiocese attended a special Year of Youth Q&A session about “how young people can make a difference in the Church and in the world”.

Hosted by TV and Radio Journalist Jo Hayes, the Year 11 and 12 Q&A session held at Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne, was an incredibly empowering event for senior students in both Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) and Religious Institute schools.

The Q&A set the tone for the rest of the year by inviting young people to enter into authentic dialogue with Church and community leaders around issues that were close to their hearts.

Panellists included Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell, ACBC Office for Youth Director, Malcolm Hart; Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) ambassador Ashleigh Green; Canossian Sister Mel Dwyer and youth advocates Erin and Devitt Kennedy.

Through considered responses to the challenging questions, the panellists discussed topics ranging from the role of women in Church leadership to the impact social media can have on mental health and why Church teachings are more relevant today than they ever have been.

Panel members said they were incredibly impressed with the depth of questions asked and the insightful responses generated during the student debrief session. 

A number of students from St Patrick's College, Gympie, also sat down with the panel for an informal discussion on “young people of faith in regional communities”.

Their robust discussion outlined how the realities of living in rural communities were twofold. 

When “everyone knows everyone” it can result in supportive tight-knit communities, but at the same time, the lack of anonymity experienced, relative to those in larger cities, also posed as a significant challenge for young people grappling with their sense of true self and identity.  

For many of the students in attendance, a key takeaway from the Q&A was the realisation that young people “are” the Church.

By hearing how the panellists have been, and continue to be, agents of change in various contexts, the students left feeling empowered to make a difference in their own communities.

Many spoke of their desire to engage in further discussion around issues such as mental health, the role of women in the church and sex and sexuality, while others put forward ideas on how to better engage young people in Church and faith-based events in the future.

The Q&A was the first in a serious of events organised for the special Year of Youth program aimed at students in Prep to Year 12.

It includes an all-day event: “The Life You’re Living” with Catholic speaker, songwriter and musician Jesse Manibusan for Year 7-12 students and teachers, particularly those interested in music ministry in Term 2.

A Year 5/6 Leaders Formation Day in Term 3 will provide an opportunity for primary student leaders to look back on their 6-7 years of Catholic schooling discovering the ways Jesus accompanied them on their journey.

Year 10 students in all BCE and Religious Institute schools will have an opportunity to attend PoTENtial: Power of TEN To Inspire And Lead 2018, which has been re-imagined and transformed into an interactive, inspirational leadership and formation day that includes outstanding guest presenters, uplifting music, interaction with local community leaders, engaging student activities and peer-to-peer discussions.

BCE Year of Youth events Organiser Steph Unger said the events were all based on the theme for the year: “Open new horizons for spreading joy: Young people, faith and vocational discernment” and addressed the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference (ACBC) aims for the special Year of Youth.

Brisbane Catholic Education Office

243 Gladstone Road, Dutton Park Q 4102

GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia

Phone: (07) 3033 7000

Fax: (07) 3844 5101