by Nichole Chow

Two years ago, I was privileged to be given a great opportunity to go to the ACYMC (Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention) in Campbelltown, NSW. In the beginning, I was not too sure of what to expect from a nation-wide conference for youth ministers. Glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the convention and gained valuable insights to become a better leader for the parish community I serve.

What is interesting about this event is the exposure I got in meeting a variety of people who specialise in various fields of youth ministry within a short period. Special guest speakers from all over Australia came in and gave presentations and informal discussions on the different focuses of youth ministry.

There were two distinct guest speakers that left me with a lasting impression. The first being, Sr. Hilda Scott OSB. She ran an inspirational workshop on how easy it was to pray with young people and to experience God in our daily lives. She spoke about experiencing God through music and people.  But also different ways God communicates with us, and how it is easy to miss these messages because of so many distractions. Sr Hilda reminded the us to take our time to contemplate our daily encounters and to reflect on the messages God is trying to convey. This struck a chord as I am able to see the trivial things I used to miss when God is trying to speak to me on a daily basis. The second key note speaker was Fr Christian Fini OMI. In his presentation, he discussed how to draw young people into responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the Catholic faith community. It does sound like a mouthful of words, but when he delivered his speech with the analogies of the connection of smart phones, the mobile phone tower and the service network provider, I could easily understand the message he was implying. To clarify the analogy, the smart phones, mobile phone tower and the service network provider are metaphors for the general youth community, the youth leaders of the church and Christ respectively. What stuck with me is the core of his message, where he emphasised that as leaders we are called to be the link to guide young people to God and to believe that young people are an integral part of the church in the present day; not just the hope of the future.

All in all, it is hard to write out every bit of my experience at convention. But I can tell you it is worth the trip especially for all the youth leaders and mentors out there. You will meet many interesting and approachable people who will answer any questions you have pertaining to youth ministry, plus you will gain beneficial skills for your leadership and spiritual development. And before I leave you to it, there will be fun network dinners with live music too, and who doesn’t love to hear Fr Rob Galea sing live right?

The Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention (ACYMC) will be held in Adelaide this 3-5 October 2014.