Over 70 expected at National Catholic Youth Conference

Youth ministers, parishioners, chaplains, diocesan and school staff and members of various community groups and Catholic movements will be brought together next week by their shared passion for youth and young adult ministry.

Over 70 participants from around New Zealand will gather in Palmerston North from 13-16 November for the ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ National Catholic Conference for Youth and Young Adult Ministers, organised by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Young People.

Included in the programme are an address from Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North, three keynote speeches, an interactive workshop which will break open the founding documents of Catholic youth and young adult ministry in New Zealand, and eight other workshops from which participants can choose four.

The keynote speakers are Samuel Clear from Harvest Inroads Australia, who is well-known for his engaging and inspirational presentations on putting Christ’s love into action in a broken world; Chris Duthie-Jung who has extensive experience in ministry with young Catholics and is currently completing his PhD on the Catholic identity of Gen Y New Zealanders, and Kitty McKinley, who has been actively involved in youth ministry and development for over 40 years and is the founder of professional youth and social work agency Challenge 2000.

Workshop themes include planning prayer and liturgy; engaging with Maori and Polynesian communities; encouraging youth involvement in parish life; supporting families in their spiritual journeys, and using new media and technology.

The conference will open on Sunday with a Mass celebrated by coadjutor bishop of Palmerston North, Bishop Charles Drennan, which will be followed by a gathering with the parish community. Each day will begin and conclude with prayer, and daily Mass will be offered at lunchtime. Br Kieren Fenn FMS will offer two evening Exegesis and Prayer sessions. The conference will conclude on Wednesday with a Commissioning Mass celebrated by Bishop Cullinane.

National Project Coordinator of the Office for Young People, Sr Helen O’Sullivan RNDM, says the conference will benefit from having a wide range of participants.

“There will be a truly national feel to the conference with registrations having come in from as far North as Auckland and as far South as Dunedin,” she says. “The participants are involved in diverse ministries both in the Catholic Church and the wider community and will bring with them a range of perspectives, experiences and energies to share with others who are passionate about youth and young adults.

“My desire is that the conference will give hope to those who have been involved in youth and young adult work for a long time and provide inspiration for those who are newer to this important ministry in the Church”.