Program offers rich experiences to young people

An innovative program offering young people the opportunity to experience a variety of ministries has been launched in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The Pastoral Placement Program is a unique initiative, focused on journeying with its participants as they work within the vast landscape of mission in the diocese. The program is designed to help participants discern “the call of the baptised” and to help these lay men and women to discover more about who they are, and where they might best fit as active disciples in the Church. They are offered experiences, coupled with a process of theological reflection, to help them make meaning and develop as mature individuals.

The inaugural pastoral placement program includes five energetic young people: Samantha Hill, 22, Claire McWilliam, 18, Elizabeth Melville, 18, Jarrod Moore, 18, and Karina Movigliatti, 25. They have begun their first placements for the year in agencies such as the Apostleship of the Sea (Ministry to Seafarers), CatholicCare, Catholic Schools Office, the Chancery and Penola House. This year, more than ten diocesan agencies committed to hosting a placement throughout the year. Each placement runs one day a week over four weeks, offering a taste of what each agency offers the community it serves.

So far, the participants have used words like “amazing” and “enjoyable” to explain their first placement experiences. Jarrod, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Blackbutt North, commented that his experience at Penola House, “...has been a real eye-opener for me. Not everybody in Australia has it easy, and refugees do it tougher than most.” Samantha, after an experience at her Seafarers placement, wrote the following reflection which she shared on the diocesan Be, Grow, Show Youth Retreat Lenten Facebook page:

Yesterday whilst on placement at Seafarers, we were sitting in the chapel and after some prayer and talking about the seafarers on the ships that come ashore for the mission to seafarers…one of the most beautiful things I heard was that the most important thing that we can do for these men is organise Mass for them so they can have the Eucharist and nourish their faith. This really touched me. I think sometimes we take the Eucharist for granted and it's so readily available for us, whilst these men can often go a couple of months without receiving the Eucharist and shore leave is hard to’'s amazing that the best thing we can offer some of these men is the opportunity to receive the body and blood of Christ. Christ is just the best gift! (Quoted with permission.)

St Paul, writing to the Romans, says, “ transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NRSV).

As the Pastoral Placement Program continues to work towards empowering its participants, we welcome enquiries from agencies or individuals who may wish to learn more. P Melissa Fenech 4979 1168 or E

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Melissa Fenech

Melissa Fenech is one of the Supervisors in the Pastoral Placement Program. She is filling in for Teresa for this week's Tuesdays with Teresa column.

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