At the end of January, youth leaders across the Diocese of Parramatta had the opportunity to “go out into the deep” with the launch of Catholic Youth Parramatta’s Duc in Altum ministry initiative. Combining gatherings, networking, retreats and accompaniment, Duc in Altum aims to foster in our youth a deeper awareness of their own worth, to give them the opportunity for connection, and to instil in them leadership skills which will stand them in good stead for the future.
While our youth leaders might talk about “youth ministry” in different words, it always comes back to relationship. Youth ministry is a new and exciting venture for Charline Harb, who joined the ministry team at Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill last year, and a great opportunity to bring those around her to God. “It’s being a willing instrument or vessel which God can use, remembering that it is God who does the work and not us”, she says. “It’s journeying with the youth through genuine relationship and being there for them just as Christ is, always pointing towards God”. Hazel Wong, youth minister at St Monica’s, North Parramatta, says journeying and relationship, especially relationship with God, are crucial elements. “Youth ministry is a way God wants youth to know Him better and to witness the unconditional love He has for us”, she says.
Hope was at the heart of our youth ministers as they participated in the launch of Duc in Altum initiative. Maelody Gevero, youth minister at St Aidan’s, Rooty Hill, looked forward to meeting other youth after such an extended time of COVID-19 restrictions. “It was very nice to encounter and share our stories with fellow leaders”, she says. “I hoped for community and the Duc in Altum program delivered.”
Charline and Hazel were also excited by the opportunity to meet others in ministry, and to receive formation and practical training. “I look forward to joining with others who are just starting out or who have had years of experience in ministry, getting to learn about their experiences and their ideas going forward”, Charline says. Hazel hopes that the program will expand her leadership skills. “I just want to learn to become a better leader for my youth group, and I’m truly grateful the program has provided me ways to achieve that, to reflect, and to consider my purpose within youth ministry”, she says.
Duc in Altum offers many exciting opportunities to continue this journey of formation, training and relationship. Charline looks forward to the formation and accompaniment group offerings. “These will really give us the opportunity to journey with others in youth ministry, share in the experience together, and collaborate with other parishes”, she says. Maelody echoes these words. “I’m most excited for future activity and collaboration amongst and within our youth group deaneries”, she says. “I’m also praying that as the program continues, that more youth leaders will emerge.”
Although the program is still in its early days, Charline, Hazel and Maelody already have some ideas of what they would like to bring back to share with the youth in their parishes. “I’d love to share what I learn through conversation or through example”, Charline says.
Hazel hopes to use new connections with other youth leaders to inspire youth in her parish. “I hope to even give a testimony as a way to inspire others to seek out Christ themselves”. Maelody feels inspired and encouraged to give what she learns to the youth in her parish through establishing trusting, authentic relationships. “Being a witness to Christ, especially to our youth, is reflected in our actions”, she says. “Everything we receive is always to be shared”.
Are you a youth leader, or a young person wanting to grow in faith and relationship with God and others? There is still an opportunity for you to join Duc in Altum! To find out more about the program offerings, or to register, please click here.