Southern Region Year Nine Evangelisation Day

The theme for the ‘Evangelisation Day’ was based upon the Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mat 5.8). This was expanded to simply be “A Pure Heart: An Open Heart!” The day began with a Lectio Divina Prayer based on the Beatitudes, led by a selection of students from the 15 schools that were present. After the official ‘welcome’, there was a briefing on World Youth Day 2016, of which the theme will be the Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful” (Mat 5.7). However, all activities and events throughout the day focused on the theme: ‘A Pure Heart: An Open Heart”, starting with an Ice Breaker Activity run by Ms. Jacqueline Simpson (Assistant Religious Education Coordinator and Youth Ministry Coordinator from Mount Saint Joseph College, Milperra).  The purpose of this activity was to meet students from other schools with an ‘Open Heart’.
The guest presenter for the day was the acclaimed international singer and songwriter, Steve Angrisano. His music focused on approaching life with an open heart, and testimonial stories about events that he had encountered or witnessed that required people to experience conversion to a pure and open heart. A feature of Steve Angrisano’s work is maximum involvement with the group and the Year 9 students from Southern Region were ready to meet the challenge.

After the first session, students had a chance to meet with like minded students from other Southern Region schools over a light morning tea. In the second session, Steve Angrisano continued to build on this sense of fellowship that was emerging within the group, and encouraged by the Religious Education Coordinators and Youth Ministry Coordinators that had travelled with their students to support them on the day. Steve Angrisano emphasised the idea that one person can make a difference, as exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ. Together though, our ability to have a positive impact upon the world is even greater. To reinforce this, Steve got the Year 9 students and even the teachers onto their feet as the classic song “Lean On Me” was played in the College Hall.

The Year 9 students then reflected on what they could do, even in their own school, to make the world a better place. This reflection was led by Mrs Elizabeth Motou (Religious Education Coordinator Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook) and Ms Eliza Piper (Youth Ministry Coordinator Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook). With ideas such as ‘Kid Principal’ and an Evangelisation Club active in their school, the challenge was put to the Year 9 students to think of creative ways that they could put in place at their school, to make sure that the Good News of Jesus Christ was alive and active in their school.

The Parish Priest of ‘Our Lady of the Rosary (Fairfield)’, Fr Terry Bell, joined the Year 9 Evangelisation Day in time for the Angelus, which was prayed at midday. A reflection by the Southern Region Secondary Religious Education Adviser, Mr David Ivers, then followed, on the meaning of the Angelus in living our lives in the Twenty First Century. His challenge was simple. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.” How do we continue to make the Word visible amongst us today? What can you, as an individual and as a group, do about that?

This led into an opportunity to discuss such ideas amongst themselves, as they continued to enjoy and build fellowship with each other over lunch.
In his homily, Fr Terry Bell spoke of the need for evangelisation to be ongoing, each and every day and the importance of being responsive to God’s call with the same open and pure heart that allowed Mary to say ‘Yes’ at the Annunciation. Steve Angrisano provided the music for the Mass and a strong sense of community was felt by all.
As students farewelled each other at the end of the day, common phrases that were being shared were “that was amazing”, “I really got a lot out of today!” There was a very clear sense that the 10 students from the 15 Southern Region Schools represented at the day, were returning to their schools, willing and able to take on the task of making Jesus ever more present in their school and in their local community. It was somehow fitting that the song played at the end of Mass was “Go Make A Difference”, for that is what these students were empowered to do.

The success of the day was due to the planning and organisation of a group of people. Special thanks to the host school, Patrician Brothers’ College Fairfield and their Principal, Mr John Killeen, their organising committee Mr Michael Kelleher (Assistant Principal), Mr Bruce Carr (Religious Education Coordinator), Mrs Kim Wild (Assistant Religious Education Coordinator), Ms Angela Penna (Youth Ministry Coordinator) and Mr Adam Lockwood (Music Coordinator). The willingness of Ms Jacqueline Simpson (Assistant Religious Education Coordinator and Youth Ministry Coordinator – Mount St Joseph College Milperra) to lead the Ice Breaker Session and the reflection and challenge at the end of the day by the team from Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook: Mrs Elizabeth Motou (Religious Education Coordinator), Ms Eliza Piper (Youth Ministry Coordinator). Thanks should also be given to the planning team from the Catholic Education Office Sydney.

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