Chris Lee encourages youth to stay connected
Sydney Catholic Youth team leader Chris Lee knows many young people who are struggling to maintain mental health during the current lockdown and wants them to know that while the pandemic needs to be taken seriously, it should not occupy their minds each and every day.
“Especially if you live alone and are feeling isolated and all the information you’re getting is about COVID updates, it’s important to know that the world’s much bigger than that and that life is much bigger than that,” he urged. “It’s something we need to be careful of because as human beings we’re built to be in communion with God and with one another.
“We’re encouraging our youth leaders that while we can’t avoid some sense of isolation at the moment, just to try and stay connected with people even if you don’t feel like it because you might not realise what a massive impact it has on you and on them.”
After four years, the effervescent 27-year-old with a winning smile will leave his role at the Archdiocese of Sydney this month to take up a position as executive officer for the Secretariat for Clergy in the Diocese of Broken Bay, working in clergy formation, wellbeing and mission support and assisting with other projects.
Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Daniel Ang paid tribute to Chris for bringing “great enthusiasm to his work as a part of the [Centre] and a strong vision for youth that he has offered the parishes, schools and communities of Sydney”.
“We wish Chris every blessing in this new and exciting role in Broken Bay, and we pray for his continued achievement and faithful witness in service of the Church,” he said.
Chris leaves a solid network of youth leaders and volunteers across the archdiocese.
Chris also helped organise the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Panama, coordinated the first Australian group to attend Washington DC’s annual March for Life, and led the co‐ordination of ‘Y‐Factor’ youth camps for hundreds of young people.
Australian first for vocational discernment
“One of the highlights was seeing youth leaders coming through who were teenagers when we first started,” he said. Working closely with priests including vocations director Fr Epeli Qimaqima, Fr Josh Miechels and Fr Daniele Russo to set up Sumner House of discernment for young men in Lidcombe in 2019 was another highlight.
“[Vocations work] was a natural fit for us in youth ministry and I look forward to supporting the work of Joseph House which opened this year in Broken Bay as well as to learn more about the Church at a deeper level and its structures and to be of service to our priests.”
Chris experienced a strong pull back to his Catholic faith after suffering a vicious and unprovoked attack in Kings Cross just weeks after his father’s death from cancer in 2012. He said his biggest challenge in ministry has been a personal one; learning to accept that while working in the Church has its limitations, ultimately it is God’s work.
“If God has asked me to sit at this BBQ or this meeting, or fill out this risk assessment or whatever it is, I don’t care, that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “I’ve had to work hard at overcoming my pride because that has been a real temptation for me, and surrender it all to Him.”
Applications open for Sumner House
Apply at www.sydneycatholic.org/direc…/listing/sumner-house