After an electric year and a lot of “hard slog,” the members of the Perth World Youth Day Office are finishing up their contracts and are moving on to other things.
The office’s six staff members spent this year organising pre-World Youth Day (WYD) events and formation programs, orchestrating the stay of international pilgrims as well as equipping Perth pilgrims for the zenith of the event in Sydney.
By Robert Hiini
While Executive Officer Anita Parker will take up the reins at Catholic Youth Ministry as the two offices are merged, the office’s other five staff members – Administration Assistant Silvana Scarfe, Finance Officer Jeanette D’Castro, WYD Cross and Icon Coordinator Matthew Hodgson, Formation and Marketing Officer Tammy Nguyen and Media and Technology Officer Miller Lo – are leaving the employ of the archdiocese over November-December.
They say that it’s been a very positive and exhilarating ride, albeit an exhausting one. While Ms D’Castro is going on holiday, Mr Hodgson says that after working overtime for 12 months all he intends to do in the short term is “go to the beach, watch cricket and go to Mass. There’ll be no other activity,” he says laughingly.
Ms Nguyen is going back to university to finish her theology degree in pursuit of teaching at Catholic secondary schools while Ms Scarfe says that she “is still discerning where God wants me” but will do some travelling early in the new year.
After a year producing recordings, powerpoints and online video clips, Miller Lo will travel to Arizona to be a missionary for Lifeteen – the largest Catholic youth movement in the US – where he will pick up additional training and experience in using media to evangelise. Twelve months ago, although aware of the enormity of the task, they could not have imagined what the challenge would pull out of them. “Our training ground was our battle ground. Half of the time I didn’t know what I was doing,” Mr Lo said.
Anita Parker says that the success of her team is due in large part to their willingness to “put themselves under extreme stress and heavily rely on God and that at the end of the day. His will be done.” Tammy Nguyen said that joining the Perth WYD Office was a culture shock, having grown up in the Vietnamese Catholic Communtiy “with our own customs and traditions.”
She found herself leading the office’s ‘Sunday Sesh’ formation program in parishes throughout Perth, feeling like “she was in a different culture,” having fun and making many friends along the way.
The experience’s impact on each staff members’ own personal development and faith life has been marked. Ms Scarfe, who had been doing her first year of university study in science and chemistry, says that she had never worked in a team before, let alone one that would bond so intensely.
She says that in seeing each team member under pressure, she very quickly learnt when each member needed their space or time out. All of the outgoing staff members say that over this past year they have learnt what relying on God really means. Mr Lo, a convert to Catholicism two years prior to joining the office summed up their experience.
“It’s easy to have an idea of God but when things are getting bigger things can go wrong easily and so, we have to give it all over to God…Then, it’s not just an idea but God really is working through our lives,” Mr Lo said. “God had his hand on the events all the time.”