Twins Julia and Lisa Hoban were both awarded the inaugural Diocesan Citation of Merit for Youth Award from the Diocese of Parramatta in 2015.
Nominated for their dedication to the youth and music ministries in Christ the King Parish, North Rocks, the sisters have taken on significant roles to further the faith formation of the members of the CTK Alive high school youth group and the ROCKS young adult group for those aged 18 and older.
Both groups endeavour to engage young people in ways that cater to the different interests and gifts of members.
“I don’t think there is one size that fits all. Not all youth will come to the Church in the same way,” Lisa said. “Parishes need to provide different formats to engage with different people.”
“We can’t be boring to young people,” Julia said. “We need to get the youth excited about their faith. That’s what keeps me coming back because I had mentors in high school who formed me in the faith and I want to give that back.”
Lisa said she and Julia were lucky enough to come back to the faith. “Your high school years are when you discover yourself and we were able to find our faith then as well,” she added.
The sisters had what they deemed a ‘reconversion’, following in the footsteps of their parents.
“Mum and Dad have never pushed us to do anything,” Lisa said. “But just seeing their involvement, witnessing their reconversion and what comes out of that, they’ve just really motivated us in our faith.”
“If they hadn’t come back to the church, I’m not sure we would have,” Julia said. “They were the ones who brought us to church as a family. Who knows where we would be now without them?”
“We credit a lot of our faith formation and leadership capabilities also to the other youth leaders in the team, Gerard Sadaya, Gerianne Sadaya and Jamie Hoban, our older brother,” Julia continued. “We call them our three older siblings, even though Jamie is our only blood brother.”
Their father, Deacon Tony Hoban, has also been a great inspiration, providing great spiritual insight and showing how to balance increasingly busy schedules with parish commitments.
“I’m working full time in the city, with 12 hour days,” Julia said.
“And I’m teaching at a rural school in Taree, a town on the mid-north coast of NSW,” Lisa said.
“That’s something we learnt from Dad. He was studying theology, working full time and studying for the diaconate. Needless to say, we had very chaotic weekends.
“I find it amusing when we sit down and discuss which Mass we’re attending. It’s very rare that we’ll all get to sit down and celebrate Mass together as a family.
“We’re very busy people but we’re also very passionate.”
Lisa’s work in Taree means she is commuting back and forth from month to month.
“Every two or three weeks I come back. I try to come back as much as I can for the youth group because it’s been really hard being away,” she explained.
“Occasionally, they’ll call me or Skype me but it’s been hard being away from the ministry.”
Julia and Lisa will be attending World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, next month.
“This will be my first WYD. I wasn’t able to go with Julia and Jamie to WYD13 because I was on practicum for my teaching degree,” Lisa explained.
“I remember lying in bed and listening to the recordings. Just knowing that there were about three million people on that beach in Rio de Janeiro is remarkable.”
Julia’s experience of WYD13 was uplifting and she is looking forward to experiencing the international Catholic youth event with her sister.
“When you see the millions of faces of young people surrounding you, you realise you’re not alone,” she said. “I’m so excited about the initiatives we’ll also be inspired to undertake when we come back to North Rocks. It’s definitely going to give our youth group that extra push.”
Youth Mass at North Rocks is celebrated the last Saturday of each month at 6pm. For further details about the two youth groups, please call Julia on 0452 560 101.