Two former students of Loyola Senior High School, Mount Druitt have received the inaugural 2015 Diocesan Citation of Merit for Youth Award from the Diocese of Parramatta.
This award encourages and recognises the outstanding contribution and service of Walker Falemaota Aloiai and Michael Constantine Setefano to the Diocese.
Walker and Michael have taken on many faith leadership roles within their own places of study and have volunteered a great deal of time to social justice initiatives within their communities.
Walker is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in History and Social Justice at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney and Michael is currently a teacher at St Clare’s Catholic High School in Hassall Grove.
Walker was President of the Student Representative Council and Representative for Liturgy at Loyola Senior High School, Mount Druitt during his final year in 2009, where he established a new branch of leadership called Dei Gratia (by the grace of God); the vision for which was to enable more students to develop skills in leadership and to contribute to the school and to the Mount Druitt community, which is still in place today.
“We wanted to expand the mantle of leadership and include the student population in running events, advertising events, reflecting and debriefing on events. It was probably one of the best initiatives in bringing our cohort together,” Walker said.
Walker was also elected President of the Student Association at the University of Notre Dame, Australia (SAUNDA) from 2011-2012. He has also acted as an ambassador for the university to promote its values and courses to schools.
Michael has been an active member of the Good Shepherd Parish at Plumpton. He is also a prominent member of the Antioch group at Plumpton, where he has led recruitment camps, served at liturgies, and participated in the annual re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. He attended St Clare’s Catholic High School from 2004-2007, where he served on the Student Leadership Council as President.
Walker and Michael were heavily involved in two Catholic youth movements of the Diocese, the Parramatta Young Christian Students (YCS) and Young Christian Workers (YCW), and have been consecutively employed as Coordinator of the YCS in Parramatta.
The YCS and YCW are international sister movements, founded by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. The movements coordinate Catholic action based on the ‘Cardijn’ method of SEE, JUDGE, ACT and aim to form leaders in the Review of Life, a spiritual review of the everyday that inspires double transformation (transformation of self and situation). The movements believe in peer-to-peer evangelisation; workers evangelising workers and students evangelising students.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to bring what I had learnt through Antioch to students in High School. There are a lot of similarities between YCS and Antioch. I thought it was good to continue that outside of Antioch at Church on Sunday,” Michael explained.
“Walker and I bounced off each other and we learnt a lot about each other’s faith by sharing that journey together. Getting to share my faith was a big part of me wanting to be a part of the YCS and I got exactly what I wanted and more out of the movement,” Michael said.
During their time in the YCS, they assisted school-based and parish YCS groups throughout the Diocese. Walker also took on the responsibility from 2013-2014 in developing the Never Underestimate the Students (NUTS) program: the guidebook used by YCS to establish groups across Australia.
Michael and Walker also established a Leadership Camp for the Parramatta YCS movement in 2014. The camp program trains student leaders in the YCS movement to lead from a servant leadership model, based on the teachings of Christ.
“There are many people who have helped us in our faith journey. We would have never been recipients of this award without the mentorship and support of others. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Travis Kolak, Lauren Simpson, Christian Iligan, Cathy Larkin, Anthony Pope, Anne Ellis, Rosette Chidiac, Usufono Taefu, Karyn Graham and many others who have worked with us in this shared vision to empower students,” Walker said.
Editor’s Note: The journalist of this article was the previous Coordinator of the Parramatta Young Christian Workers and worked alongside both Michael and Walker.