By Anthony Barich
Perth’s diocesan Catholic Youth Ministry office has been expanded and re-launched at Highgate’s Pastoral Centre on February 18 with a focus on reaching out to the unchurched and on building up parish youth ministry.
Fr Dominic Savio CSsR, the new part-time chaplain of CYM, said its main challenge is to give Catholics a “living experience of their faith” and bring Christ to the centre of their dialogue and engagement with the world. He joins a new staff of six, including Damon Whitehouse, who worked under previous CYM director Robert Hiini as website officer.
Anita Parker, formerly Perth’s World Youth Day coordinator, will direct Olivia Lavis and Catherine Gallo Martinez, CYM’s two other full-time workers devoted to metropolitan and country parishes north and south of the river, respectively. Patricia Pejcinoski has also joined the team as a part-time admin assistant.
CYM’s new mission statement is: “To walk with young people on their faith journey and inspire them to build communities that are vibrant places for young people to encounter Christ, engage with the Church and be a witness to their faith in their everyday life.”
Fr Savio said that the reality is, “few young people are connected with their parish, and if there are problems at a grass-roots level in that system, then CYM will have to work out a strategy of reaching these youth and to train people in youth ministry at that level”.
Fr Savio, who ran a Redemptorist retreat centre while supporting youth ministry in Bangalore, will assist the long-running CYM tradition of 5.30pm Mass on Wednesday at the Catholic Pastoral Centre Chapel of St Therese of Lisieux, followed by 6.30pm Holy Hour. He will be assisted by other priests, like retired Fr John O’Reilly, who was heavily involved under Mr Hiini, who has now joined The Record.Miss Parker, a former music, RE and maths teacher at Mazenod College, said that CYM aims to provide support and resources to leaders who are in parish ministry on a needs basis. “Some want community service programs, some may want scriptural resources or resources on how to run a youth Mass properly,” she said, outlining some areas of support.
The Holy Hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will also provide a chance for parish leaders and representatives to pray together and following this, they will meet monthly to discuss initiatives and progress in parish ministry with CYM staff. Northern parish representatives will meet on the first Wednesday of each month, while southern parish delegates will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Miss Lavis’ parish ministry includes the Polish and Ukrainian Catholic communities plus the Melkite/Arab community, plus 53 other parish centres in the northern region. Miss Martinez’s parish ministry includes 62 parish centres including the Basilica of St Patrick and the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Holy Spirit Chapel, both in Fremantle.
CYM has already distributed its first parish resource – a Lenten Program that involves prayer, drama, discussion and catechesis, in many cases based on messages of Pope Benedict XVI.