Nepal experience jolts young Perth man into action, St Joseph’s Subiaco reaps benefits.
By Robert Hiini
Greg LeCoultre is a man who is trying to make a difference in his own backyard.
Visiting the poor in Nepal and India as a teenager with Trinity College he realised that although the challenges in Perth might be less obvious, the Holy Spirit was calling him to be part of local solutions.
As youth coordinator of St Joseph’s Parish in Subiaco for the past six months he has found an opportunity to do just that with the youth initiatives he has been wanting to run now in full flight.
Boost, a Wednesday-night discussion group for young adults aged 17 to 35, has been underway in the parish for the past two months with guest speakers coming from different walks of life with their own intriguing stories to tell.
In recent weeks, attendees have heard from former SAS commander, Lieutenant Colonel James McMahon, Subiaco parishioner and nurse, Rod Pereira who established the Kalcutta Station Mission attending to the needs of the poor amassing at train stations, as well as parishioner and Woodside engineer, Paul Kyne on his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The idea is to get interesting people from within and outside the parish to talk with young adults about why it is they do what they do and how faith in Jesus Christ is involved; in contexts which are sometimes atypical.
“How does someone bring God into a job with the SAS,” Mr LeCoultre ruminates. “How does someone bring faith into an area that you might not normally associate with Christianity.”
Interesting speakers are not the only component of the Boost experience however.
Every month, Boost organisers run “History Makers” – watching and dicsussing films that show heroic people and events – with attendees set to watch Kokoda on the 22nd and 29th of this month when Boost returns after its Easter recess.
“Faith Conversations” is Boost’s final component featuring a guest priest or religious who is invited to speak about spiritual practices and belief as well as participating in the resulting discussion.
Greg LeCoultre says however, that creating a relaxed environment for relationship and friendship is more important to him than any talk or program.
Unlike in most parishes, Mr LeCoultre’s job as youth coordinator is a paid one; a job he holds down as well as working at global accounting firm, Ernst and Young part time.
The paid position is a result of the parish’s response to the World Youth Day experience of last year.
After completing its building development plans over the past few years, the spiritual growth of youth has come to the fore in the parish as a core focus area of time and resources.
The parish began a successful youth Mass almost three years ago although Mr LeCoultre’s idea of a “youth” Mass is not the standard one.
“Usually when people hear youth Mass they think of rock bands but we do it a little bit differently.”
Subiaco’s youth Mass is designed to be short and sharp with homilies worked to be as straightforward and concise as possible, with young people involved in almost every facet of the Mass.
With their strong relational bent, organisers make sure they have three or four young people greeting everyone out front before the Mass gets underway.
Afterwards, young people are invited to reconvene at the local Dome Cafe for some fraternal caffeine consumption, an initiative that has been very successful to date.
The parish plans to make its Pentecost Mass on May 31 an intense day of prayer and thanksgiving, especially for high school and tertiary students about to sit their exams.
Students will be able to submit the dates of their exams and the Mass of that day will be offered up for their testing academic “time of trial.”
Mr LeCoultre knows there is no magic formula for youth ministry and says that initiatives might come and go as the parish experiments with different formats. Ultimately, he says, it’s about the journey.
“I hope to support these young people, growing with them in the process of becoming happy, healthy and holy adults.”
“I don’t think we ever get to the end. It’s a journey of sanctification.”
More information about St Joeseph’s Subiaco youth events and initiatives can be found at www.stjosephssubiaco.org.au, their open facebook group, St Josephs Subiaco Youth, or by emailing Greg at