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Inspiration for youth in a time of counterfeits

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The 10:10 Project Conference included Eucharistic Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
The 10:10 Project Conference included Eucharistic Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

In a week when a major sex scandal engulfed a top private Sydney school, speakers urge students not to fall for the toxic lies and myths foisted on young people about life, relationships

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP called on hundreds of Catholic senior students to resist the “deception” of carefully curated images of life and relationships, and instead seek the truly good life offered through Jesus Christ at a youth conference in Sydney last week.

The archbishop gave the keynote address at the first ever 10:10 Project Conference held at the Waterview Convention Centre, Olympic Park, which brought together around 750 Year 10 students from the 17 Sydney Catholic Schools involved in the project.

It came in the same week that shock relevations about an online group chat between private school students put the spotlight back on how deeply disturbing messaging around sexual violence and degradation is pervading youth culture.

“Their presence in such large numbers was proof that ‘faith and ideals are indeed alive and well in the young hearts of Sydney’.”

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The archbishop urged his listeners not to be fooled by “FOMO” culture (an acronym for the fear of missing out), chase short-term satisfaction or likes from friends on social media, but rather look to the bigger picture of encountering Jesus Christ and then bringing His love to all.

Their presence in such large numbers was proof that “faith and ideals are indeed alive and well in the young hearts of Sydney”.

Students were given brutally honest real-life experiences from speakers about relationships and mental health, the light of faith and the witnesses of the saints and examples of modern-day holiness.

Students participate in the 10:10 Project Conference on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Students participate in the 10:10 Project Conference on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Many were moved by the archbishop’s account of his own “special test” sent from God, his debilitating experience with Guillain Barré syndrome, which struck him weeks after his installation as archbishop in 2014.

The 10:10 Project takes its name from John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it to the full”.

The conference was led jointly by Sydney Catholic Schools and the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation’s Sydney Catholic Youth and Life, Marriage & Family Office.

“From the male perspective, parish youth worker Paul Fam and evangelisation leader Tomasz Juszczak presented workshops for the young men …”

Director of Collective Shout Melinda Tankard-Reist shared with the young women her work to counter the prevalence of pornography which is more violent, seen by more children and at younger ages than ever before. They then heard from Sister Cecilia Joseph OP about strong models of holiness for today’s women.

From the male perspective, parish youth worker Paul Fam and evangelisation leader Tomasz Juszczak presented workshops for the young men on pornography, the psychology of mobile phone addiction, and, using examples from popular movies and their own personal stories, the inspiration in Jesus Christ for the men of today.

“We’re addressing that issue of consent and making it very clear what the world is telling us about life and relationships, how badly that can affect us, and also what the Church offers to counteract that,” said Sydney Catholic School’s Dominique Farah.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP gives the keynote address at the 10:10 Project Conference on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP gives the keynote address at the 10:10 Project Conference on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“15 and 16 is typically the age when people begin to form relationships and we can help them at this time to gain the right perspective or at least get them thinking about their behaviour and how it affects others and also themselves.” 10:10 has seen huge growth from three Catholic schools joining the pilot two years ago to 17 schools today and that’s expected to increase.

“This is youth ministry at its best,” Milad Khalil said.

“The project offers participants ongoing formation at grassroots level, led by young people for young people, that then builds towards larger scaled events like this conference. “It doesn’t water things down, it doesn’t shy away from the harder issues and the students absolutely love it because they are craving truth, meaning and purpose.

“It is my hope and prayer that we see a version of 10:10 throughout dioceses across the country and Sydney is proof that it is possible!”

“10:10 is evidence of the incredible things that can be achieved when agencies work together. Most importantly, it proves to young people that fullness of life is experienced best when Christ is at the centre of whatever vocation they feel called to.

“It is my hope and prayer that we see a version of 10:10 throughout dioceses across the country and Sydney is proof that it is possible!”

Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Daniel Ang said the momentum that has been developed over this past year, led by Milad and team together with the archdiocese’s Catholic schools has been extraordinary.

Students attend the 10:10 Project Conference on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Students attend the 10:10 Project Conference on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“In a culture of the ‘Great Awokenings’, paralysed by choice, rife with conflict over issues of identity and beset by social ideologies, the 10:10 Project has given a new generation of leaders the space to reflect clearly, thoughtfully and prayerfully on who they are as sons and daughters of God, the plan that God has for their lives and the sanctity of their relationships with others,” he said.

“As the 10:10 Project shares, and Christ exemplified, love is a gift and it is also a decision, to make an authentic commitment to the truth of another.

“This love is possible for young people, even in the imperfections and doubts we all share, because it is a love that has first been given.

“… the project has origins in the feedback from the group of students and staff who attended World Youth Day in Madrid.”

“I think this is one of the key intuitions we hope our young people arrive at through their experience of the 10:10 Project.”

Anthony Cleary, director of religous education and evangelisation at Sydney Catholic Schools said the project has origins in the feedback from the group of students and staff who attended World Youth Day in Madrid and the need to engage young people in “free and full” conversations on what matters to them which integrates the Church’s wisdom on life issues, human sexuality and respect for human dignity.

“We know that the notion of our inter-relations can sometimes be distorted and twisted by society, especially in the promotion of pornography and the objectification of women,” he said.

The 10:10 Project Conference was held at the Waterview Convention Centre, Olympic Park, on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
The 10:10 Project Conference was held at the Waterview Convention Centre, Olympic Park, on 7 September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The 10:10 Project complements schools’ religious education and PDHPE curriculums but is completely voluntary with students giving up lunchtimes or after school or using their pastoral care classes. They also attend sessions held in parishes, which involve praise and worship plus catechesis.

“God demands something from us, and that will not turn people away, in fact it’s inspiring to know that sacrifice brings reward. And that the easy life isn’t necessary the good life,” Mr Cleary said.

He hoped the project provides a “re-set” opportunity for teenagers who need the support of adults, with the blessing of their parents and carers, who are willing to enter into courageous conversations with them about life, love and faith.

“Part of a long-term plan is to provide opportunities for all Catholic systemic school students from Kindergarten to Year 12 to participate in an age-appropriate way.”

“This is a living, breathing, dynamic approach to education in the intersection of faith and life, faith and reason, and formation and learning.”

Part of a long-term plan is to provide opportunities for all Catholic systemic school students from Kindergarten to Year 12 to participate in an age-appropriate way, he added.

Grace Campbell, a student at Domremy College in Five Dock said she enjoyed the day.

The 10:10 project includes a series of school-based workshops twice a term and parish-based events once a term, with Year 10 students, and includes larger scaled events such as a camp, a retreat, and a conference. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
The 10:10 project includes a series of school-based workshops twice a term and parish-based events once a term, with Year 10 students, and includes larger scaled events such as a camp, a retreat, and a conference. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“Melinda’s talk was very confronting but very honest and it’s nice to hear that there are people like her doing stuff to fight that kind of thing.”

“Most of our year joined 10:10 and it’s brought our whole grade together, because we’re usually separated out into our classes. It’s great to hang out and have a space to have a discussion about these things.”

“It’s helped me learn about myself as a man and gave me insight into how to connect further with my faith …”

Rami Jarboue, a student at St Patrick’s College in Fairfield, said the day was “a really moving experience”.

“I really enjoyed Paul’s and Thomasz’ stories. It’s helped me learn about myself as a man and gave me insight into how to connect further with my faith and fuel my development with God,” he said.

“Thomasz’s story of rebuilding his life and his relationship after his addiction to porn really gives me an idea of how to recover and overcome hardships in my own life.”

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