Source: Catholic Outlook, August 2016
By Elizabeth McFarlane
Standing in front of a crowd of high school students and sharing how God has worked in your life is a daunting task, but young people aged 18-30 across Australia are taking up the challenge in their call to join Youth Mission Team (YMT).
One of the leading Catholic Youth Ministries in Australia, YMT has been delivering peer-to-peer youth outreach for 30 years to high schools across the country, operating four ministry teams in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Wollongong.
YMT relies heavily on donations and sponsors and after the recent loss of a major benefactor, YMT is seeking the financial support of foundations, businesses and individual contributors to continue their ministry.
Based in Baulkham Hills, the team in Sydney is made up of dedicated and inspiring young people who have deferred studies and full-time work to devote a year to living in a radical common lifestyle of prayer, simplicity and mission, striving for eternal change in themselves and others.
They run high school retreats, reflection days and seminars, performing dramas, coordinating activities and sharing their faith testimonies to restore hope and the faith to the lives of Australian teenagers.
Jacqueline Holden and Paul Fam are part of the team in Sydney in response to what they describe as “God’s call on their hearts”.
Beginning and ending each day with prayer at 6am and 10pm, Jacqui and Paul attend daily Mass and spend time each day in worship and personal prayer, as well as being pastorally and spiritually mentored.
Peter Dominish has been managing the team now for three years and his wage is supported by donations and income received from facilitating school retreats.
“It’s definitely more than a job. YMT for me is about being a genuine human being the way God intended us to be,” Pete said.
“I look to Christ and go, ‘Here’s this guy who is so bold in being Himself that He didn’t try to hide it.’ Those are the kind of relationships I want in my life, where I can be a witness of that boldness of self to other people and I can be a witness to my team members so that they can go out and be a witness to the youth.
“It is just trying to mimic the kind of relationship and household you think a Christ-centred household would approach. It doesn’t mean that you don’t talk about problems. It’s the opposite. You have to communicate because if you don’t communicate, if you’re not honest, if you’re not vulnerable, then the household is going to struggle.”
Living in a house with people who were strangers before you moved in can lead to disagreements, but Paul said it is the pastoral support of mentors that strengthens the team to move past divisions and focus on the mission.
Paul believes there is a real care for the people who live in the household. “It’s great having that third eye to mediate sometimes when you can’t see eye to eye and you just need some other input. Pete is great for that,” he said.
“Sometimes you don’t need a huge lecture. Sometimes you just need a small word and that’s enough to bring everyone back to focus on what is really important.
“Most of the time, it can be something small that kicks it off but that household pastoral care is great – just someone coming out to meet you in your household and asking you what is going on.”
YMT members also spend two days a week working and pooling their wages to cover basic living expenses, leaving themselves an allowance of just $25 a week.
“Being able to go up the front and explain our way of life and have students come up to us and say, ‘You have $25 a week? How do you do that?’ It’s a beautiful way to open up a conversation,” Jacqui explained.
“YMT has taught me so much about myself and others, as well as what it means to be a true leader. I’ve learnt not to be a leader who stands up front on a pedestal. It’s about meeting the students where they are at and where their life is at right now.
“It’s amazing to see students almost start to change in front of you. Being able to talk to students you would have never met if it weren’t for YMT is a privilege.”
To support YMT, visit ymt.com.au and donate through YMT’s ‘Eternal Change’ partner program under ‘Contributions’ or tel (02) 4284 6600.