Former teacher aims to bring the youth into the Church

19 Dec 2019

By Theresia Titus

24:7 Youth Ministry network gathering prior to ACYF 2019 closing Mass on Tuesday 10 December. Photo: Supplied.

By Theresia Titus

Growing up in a Maltese Catholic family, Mario Borg, a former teacher and director of 24:7 Youth Ministry, is inspired to make the Catholic church in Australia young again.

Speaking at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) 2019, Mr Borg said in one his talks that “youth group should be the start of a faith community”.

“It is our belief that strategically focused youth groups can, in fact, be a place of evangelisation, where young people are attracted to the fun, friendship and food that often accompanies youth gatherings, and in the processs, encounter Jesus,” Mr Borg said.

“Youth Ministers and young leaders sharing faith and effectively communicating formation programmes inspire the young people they are ministering to, to know more about the Catholic faith and Jesus.

“A true faith community is one where people encounter Christ and then desire to follow Him encouraged by others who want to do the same,” he continued.

Speaking to The Record, Mr Borg said after 20 years of teaching, he felt a need to draw young people into the church.

“Graduating and becoming a teacher in a Catholic school only reinforced the notion of obligation when it came to practising my faith,” Mr Borg said.

“My teaching career has now become a lived-out experience of being on a mission to evangelise wherever possible, both with students and colleagues.

“Sometime later I was asked to take on a leadership position within the Community, which led me into a position that sowed the seed for what now is 24:7 Youth Ministry,” he continued.

Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community founded 24:7 Youth Ministry in 2003 with an aim “to keep teenagers engaged in the life of the church”, by making the organisation sustainable.

Live music and testimony by Mario Borg and 247 Band on the second day of ACYF 2019 Monday 9 December. Photo: Supplied.

Based on a research undertaken by the community, there are two factors essential in making youth ministries sustainable: employment and qualifications, which led to the establishment of Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation in 2005.

“24:7 Youth Ministry established a management and employment structure that I became heavily involved in, having left teaching in 2006 and formally took on the role of Director of 24:7 Youth Ministry,” Mr Borg said.

“24:7 Youth Ministry now operates 13 weekly or fortnightly youth groups for year 6-12 students in partnership with 17 parishes, utilising the model of employing qualified youth ministers.

“This, together with an emphasis on a strategic leadership development plan for students in years 10-12, has seen the expansion of the 24:7 Youth Ministry network over 17 years of operation, proving that sustainable youth ministry is indeed possible,” he continued.

Youth ministers at 24:7 Youth Ministry are 17 to 30 years of age, with an average age of 22 and are required to complete a minimum of Certificate IV in Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation, a year-long and full-time course 

“Well-formed, faith-filled Youth Ministers are so important. Not only are they equipped to deliver faith in a way that is inspiring and relatable but in the process, they become young evangelists who inspire faith in the young people that they minister to,” Mr Borg said.

“Young people ministering to young people has proven to be highly successful, but even more so when youth ministers are qualified and trained to do so.

“We are very blessed by the fact that most of our youth ministers stay in their roles for an average of 4 years – whilst finishing off their university degrees – which provides stability and an opportunity for leadership development of those coming through the ranks,” he continued.

Mr Borg believed that “young people want to be engaged in authentic and meaningful leadership experiences that demand the best of them”.

“In doing all of this they are able to experience the joy of knowing Christ and the incredible excitement that comes with sharing Christ to those that they are ministering to,” he said.

“This is where the Church will truly come alive when her young people are driven by the passion of serving God, full-on, full time, all the time.

“As our young people evangelise, they serve our society in the best possible manner, allowing those who influence into the future to do so, in and through the values given to us by Jesus.”