Canadian by birth, from Edmonton, Alberta, he moved to Australia in late 2014 to study worship leadership in Sydney.
“My primary purpose was to pursue music and love of worship,” Matt said.
He had a rebellious phase in early adolescence but became involved with LifeTeen, a Catholic youth movement.
“One thing that lead me back [to the faith] was for a whole year I didn’t have the Eucharist,” he said.
“It was more of that realisation and loving the value of the Sacraments.”
Fr John plugged Matt into the community at St John XXIII Catholic Parish, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens, and he subsequently became involved with the Credo Youth Ministry at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
“I was in a vocation crisis,” Matt said. “Though the idea of the priesthood was lingering in the back of my head.”
WYD Kraków 2016 was a new twist in Matt’s journey of faith.
“Kraków was something unexpected and I was there with the new family in the Parramatta Diocese,” Matt explained.
“It was amazing. This was not some sort of abstract thing. It was a real blessing during Adoration with Pope Francis.
“This is something tangible and involved in the universal Church.”
A serendipitous moment was seeing youth from his Edmonton, Canada social circles during Adoration at World Youth Day Kraków.
Matt asked himself, why these coincidences? Each step was revealing something new.
It took him back to a question he first felt while participating in the LifeTeen program from the age of 12.
“We had a youth minister, who really inspired me, who is now an REC [Religious Education Coordinator],” Matt said.
“He was a phenomenal musician, phenomenal Dad achieving LifeTeen’s motto – leading teens closer to Christ. I’m a witness to that.”
Since then, Matt has had a burning desire to pass on the faith he received to others.
“There’s something about youth ministry because it’s vital to plant the seed.
“You’ve got get your hands dirty. Get the seed planted in there and watch it grow,” Matt said.
He worked as youth coordinator for the Hawkesbury Parishes of St Monica’s, Richmond and St Matthew’s, Windsor, putting his musical talents to good use. He finds inspiration in Fr Rob Galea’s music ministry.
“He’s definitely an inspiration and someone to look up to.
“I witnessed him play at World Youth Day as well.
“He has the things I love in terms of passion and loving life,” Matt said.
Matt also gives thanks for his journey so far to Fr Peter Williams, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia in the Diocese of Parramatta and Catholic Youth Parramatta.
It was a special moment for all those people to be gathered at the LIFTED Live event at the Rooty Hill RSL in February 2018, when Matt joined Fr Rob Galea on stage.
“I found a family with CYP: James, Sr Rosie, Qwayne.”
These people helped changed his perception of the priesthood, regarding whether he could still “be with the people.”
Matt Bretania has travelled the world, moving to Australia and visiting Europe for World Youth Day, but his greatest journey of all is just about to commence.
For more information about pursuing a vocation to the priesthood in the Diocese of Parramatta, contact the Vocations Director, Fr John Paul Escarlan, at Holy Spirit Seminary on 9637 1055.