Parish life in Sydney is being future-proofed with a successful partnership with Sydney Catholic Schools and the archdiocesan Liturgy Office to train senior students as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
Personal inspiration also brought 60 Sydney Catholic students as well as school staff and family educators to the most recent training day held at Southern Cross College in Burwood.
Sydney Catholic School’s Anita Sicari says the course, run twice a year and accredited by the Liturgy Office, provides students reaching the end of their schooling with spiritual formation and liturgical training they can then carry into their parishes in the years ahead.
“It’s a beautiful link for them between their Catholic school and parish life,” she said.
Student and staff members must be recommended for the course and supported by their parish priest and school principal before completing the training and then an online reflection.
“My faith comes pretty natural to me, my uncle is a priest in Fiji and I guess it runs in my blood,” said Benjamin Walsh, 16, a student at St Vincent’s College in Ashfield.
“I have been altar serving at my church for about eight years and it’s very important for me to express my faith and continue to extend my role within my parish and the school.”
Kava Mataele, also 16 and at St Vincent’s, said he wanted to be a good influence for younger students “so they’re more comfortable with expressing their faith.”
“I also want to be more present in my parish, St Thomas Beckett at Lewisham, where I also altar serve,” he said.
“My faith has been getting stronger as I’ve progressively involved myself with the church.
“I’m able to gain a deeper understanding of why we do certain things we do and the meaning behind them, especially about the Eucharist.”
George Rahal, youth ministry coordinator at St Vincent’s College, Ashfield, said that more extraordinary ministers for large school Masses were needed after its amalgamation from De La Salle College, Bethlehem College and St Vincent’s Primary earlier this year.
“I think it’s important for the students to show leadership and a willingness to be involved in their Catholic faith in a deeper sense, and giving them the opportunity to take on this responsibility is also important for their social intelligence and growth as a human beings,” he said.
Anne Bortolussi, family educator at Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School in Gladesville, said the course helped deepen her understanding of the Eucharistic tradition to pass on to staff and families the school and parish community.
“I know in my own faith journey it’s been really enlightening and beautiful to learn more about my faith and today’s training has been very special,” she said.
“As a cradle Catholic I knew the right things to do but not necessarily why. This helps you realise what a privilege and a grace it is to receive the Eucharist.”