Deon Testore is passionate about imparting the Catholic faith to children and teenagers so they don’t miss out, as he did when he was growing up.
“I want to give back to the Church that’s given so much to me and assist the next generation of Catholics, especially in this culture which is becoming increasingly hostile to Catholicism,” he said.
“More young people are finding themselves directionless and with increasing mental health problems, all these things can be solved by running back to Christ, but a lot of young people don’t have the privilege of being exposed to him.”
Now aged 22, Mr Testore is one of 13 young adults selected out of almost 60 applicants to be ambassadors representing the mission of catechists as part of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s young catechist program.
Each will receive $5000 to go towards their pilgrimage to World Youth Day in return for a year of volunteer service as a catechist in public schools.
Bishop Daniel Meagher commissioned the group on 21 March in the chapel of the Polding Centre offices for the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Doug Mawhinney, director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, said the new program is part of a tradition of supporting World Youth Day attendance as well as youth ministry across the archdiocese.
“This is supporting our young people in doing and being the church, it is forming them and giving them the skills so that they can gather other young people in Jesus’ name,” he said.
Sofia Mifsud, 20, a third-year education student at Australian Catholic University and already a catechist said she is excited by the opportunity to be better formed in her faith for her own benefit and her students at Burwood Girls High School.
“I grew up going to a Catholic school but never really understood what it meant to be Catholic,” she said.
“While I never really drifted away from my faith I started to question quite early the idea of God and what my faith meant to me.
“It all starts with the confidence to ask questions.
“I want students to have that confidence so they can be able to stand up for themselves and be proud to say that they are Catholic.”
Bishop Meagher said he hopes that each of the young ambassadors will experience something of the Holy Spirit at World Youth Day and be changed by the encounter.
“Then the students they will teach when they come back will receive not only the teaching about our faith but some of the Spirit as well if they are really on fire and able to witness and proclaim the presence of God their lives,” he said.
“I think it’s a really great initiative of the archdiocese to fund this program and my real hope is that these young catechists will also bring some of their friends into the ministry as well.”