PoTENtial delivers hope for the future


St Benedict's College, Mango Hill, students meet inspiring PoTENtial keynote speaker Chris Tamwoy

FOUR hundred Year 10 students from schools across Brisbane Archdiocese gathered at the Sofitel Brisbane for PoTENtial 2021a day dedicated to faith, connection, empowerment, tradition, encounter, and joy.

Themed “High Hopes, the tightly packed program included inspirational keynotes and workshops centred on prayer, social action and tradition.

As students arrived, brimming with excitement for the day, they were welcomed by a sensational musical set list​ performed by the PoTENtial band: Natalie, Mark, Megan, Nic and Luke.

Through the powerful Acknowledgement of Country and Opening Liturgy, the day began with a strong sense of the sacredness of story and the invitation to bring the attitudes: Be Yourself, Be Welcome, Be Connected and Belong.

These attitudes were modelled so beautifully by St Peter Claver College, Riverview, student Willie Leehy through his traditional dance during the Acknowledgement of Country.

In his reflection Willie said: “It is always special to represent my culture but having the opportunity to do it at such an amazing event, with so many amazing people in attendance, was such a privilege.

“The audience who shared with me their feedback and what they had learnt throughout the Acknowledgement of Country made me feel proud that so many people were invested in the First Nations culture.

“Also, the opportunity to hear from Chris Tamwoy about his cultural connections and journey really highlighted the presence of our culture on the day."

St Peter Claver College, Riverview, student Willie Leehy with Chris Tamwoy

Event co-ordinator Steph Unger said everybody was very proud of how bravely Willie shared his culture and were left feeling inspired by him to give their all to the day.

Steph said this year's theme “High Hopes" focused on Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, “…plans to give you a hope and a future.").

It invited students to encounter the God of hope and to have hope in the person they have been created to be.

“Through the symbol of the mountain, students were immersed in the idea that they should reach for great heights, trusting in the gifts and talents they have been given, in their support network and in 'Great I Am'," she said.

Steph said it also was a privilege to welcome Chris Tamwoy, as the guest speaker for the morning session.

Chris' story as a Torres Strait Islander achieving his goals in the face of challenges and hardship allowed students to reflect on resilience and strength.

He also shared an incredible guitar performance of one of his tracks on his new album.

After a quick but nourishing break, students from San Sisto College, Carina, helped the MCs Charlotte and Josiah unpack Chris's keynote speech and shed light on some of their own ways of being people of hope.

Students were then divided into groups to attend three workshop streams. The prayer stream, an artistic reflection, the tradition stream, run by the awesome Chris Tamwoy and the social justice stream curated by Vinnies, Caritas and Catholic Mission.

These workshops allowed High Hopes to be unpacked through how to be people of hope through action, prayer and tradition.

When the groups returned to the main room, Siena Catholic College, Sippy Downs,​ students helped the MC's unpack the workshops and encouraged others to live as hope in the world.

In the afternoon session the Year 10's were inspired by award-winning human rights advocate, Esther Abiya, a Year 12 student at Our Lady's College, with her reflection on “Hope in Who I Am.".

Esther told her incredible story of how she is using her experience as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo to drive her to be an advocate for peace and justice.

It just so happened that her favourite Bible quote was also Jeremiah 29:11 and she spoke of how important hope and faith has been in her life to make her the person she is today.

With the help of students from Carmel College, Thornlands and Fr Chukwudi Chinaka​ the day was brought to a close with the commissioning liturgy and a vote of thanks from BCE Executive Director Pam Betts.

Siena Catholic College, Sippy Downs, Campus Minister, Joan Prasser, said it was an amazing day for everyone who attended.

“The energy was high, and our students had an opportunity to network with other students from BCE schools."

She said one of her students commented: "It provided me with an insightful understanding of how to be more involved in the community!".

Steph said PoTENtial 2021 was certainly a wonderful formation opportunity for all the students who attended.

“We look forward to seeing the many different ways these students live as people of hope in the world," she said.

Excited students from St Patrick's College travelled from Gympie to be part of this year's PoTENtial

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