Melissa Gairdner, Young Parent and Family Co-ordinator for Manawatu
This year’s National Catholic Youth Ministry Conference ‘Alive and Well’ was a three day extravaganza of formation, prayer and fellowship hosted by the Christchurch Catholic Youth team. Their aim was for the theme of joyful hope and new life for our young people, drawn from the Acts of the Apostles (20:9-12), to flow out into the Catholic Youth Ministry Community and the Church in Aotearoa.
A good number of us from the Palmerston North Diocese headed to Christchurch on Friday April 21st: 7 from the Youth Team, plus Bishop Charles and David Mullin, and 5 other Youth and Tertiary ministers from across the Diocese. Thomas Dravtizki, currently at Holy Cross Seminary, also attended. After a smooth early flight we were scooped up at the other end by the timely Christchurch Youth team and delivered to our accommodation, with enough time to check in, book our workshops and start connecting before the opening address.
Each day was a smorgasbord of workshops, keynote sessions, prayer, mass and meals. There was plenty of opportunity to reconnect with old acquaintances and meet new: all there with an interest in Youth Ministry. Small group sessions allowed a sharing of feedback and thoughts across the ages and level of experiences. Saturday night provided a further keynote speech by Jimmy Mitchell (from Nashville, USA ), followed by an experience of contemporary worship, reconciliation and prayer with Adoration led by Deacon Alistair and Exalt music ministry, a team of volunteer musicians who minister through music to young people.
Workshops and keynote speeches addressed the challenges our current generation of young people face, and looked to solutions to effectively embrace them and journey with them towards the fullness of life in Christ Jesus.
The Christchurch team succeeded in providing us with an event that was well-organised, vibrant, joyful and full of information, zeal and connection. The conference was an opportunity to see how young Catholics are inspired in their faith and provided inspiration, formation and fellowship.
Photos: Dominic Malgeri, Diocese of Auckland