They’re young, hip, and signs of hope for teenagers across Sydney.
The team behind some of Australia’s most popular high school retreats is now collaborating with Sydney Catholic Youth to share their blend of fun and faith with even more parishes and communities.
Sydney’s Youth Mission Team has touched the lives of 450,000 Australian teenagers over 30 years, mostly through running school retreats, reflection days and seminars, says manager Peter Dominsh.
“It’s great when you see something click within these students, when they see that God is really Someone who wants to be a part of my life and not just in my being a ‘good person’, but in all the messy things and the things that hurt and the confusing things and all of my questions,” he said.
“I only hope that at the end of the day they want to keep in contact with us to continue the journey.”
Sydney Catholic Youth Team Leader Chris Lee said the team has already been a blessing to the Archdiocese of Sydney.
“Their formation experience and zeal for the mission will help activate the faith in our schools, parishes and communities,” he said.
“I feel extremely blessed to be working with them in this time and can’t wait to see the transforming work they’ll undertake in the life of the Church in Sydney.”
The six team members this year are volunteers aged between 18 and 30 who committed to full-time, live-in youth ministry, including a daily Mass and prayer routine, and remaining single for a year.
Brigid Cooney, 20, elected to take on a second year of volunteering this year and in 2019 will embark on a teaching degree.
“I love that I get to invest my time with young people so that they can encounter God,” she said.
Her own spiritual journey has progressed enormously as well, she added.
Jacinta Byrns, 20, agrees. “I feel like I’ve grown heaps and it’s such an opportunity to spread the Gospel in a radical way,” she said.
“One of the beautiful things about being in the team is that we can show young people that living in relationship with Christ, along with other people who are also trying to do this, is a really good way to live.”
Daniel Kewin, 19, said that he enjoyed meeting students, having lots of fun, sharing testimonies with them and “seeing the change that comes over them in the course of one day”.
Peter said that with so many other influences in young people’s lives which call for their attention the team’s hope is that the message it brings will give them “a bit more of a balance”.
“At the core of everything we do is reinforcing the message of who they are; that they are good, that God loves them and that they’re meant for a whole lot more than the world tells them they’re meant for,” he said.
The team will run its next weekend event for youth from November 9-11. The Sydney iSTAND Camp will be held at the St Joseph’s Conference Centre, Bringelly.
For details see the YMT Sydney Facebook page.