Thomas attends Charlton Christian College and is a parishioner at St Joseph’s Kilaben Bay. He was a recipient of the Bishop’s Award last year for his dedication and commitment to his parish. Thomas is a senior altar server, assisting and mentoring younger servers. Thomas shares his gift of music and plays his guitar in worship. Thomas was also a mentor to junior students at his school. In October 2018, he took part in his school’s mission trip to Darwin where he worked with Aboriginal children in remote communities.
I asked Thomas some questions to get to know how he came to be involved in his parish.
What is your earliest memory of church?
Sitting with Poppy K near the organ where the choir sits at St Joseph’s. I remember listening to him singing (which he loved) and wondering where the magical sound of bells came from. I now know in my altar-serving role it is the bells I ring at Mass.
How did you get involved in altar serving?
After journeying through the Sacramental Programme I was encouraged by Claire McWilliam (senior altar server at the time) and Brendon Mannyx at St Joseph’s to become involved in altar serving. I had always wanted to be involved in serving and this was an opportunity for me. I went through a training program along with others and, with much support, slowly learnt about all of the responsibilities involved.
At a time when many youth are not engaged in the Catholic Church, how do you feel a connection to God through the church?
Going to church provides me with another connection to God. I feel there is no purpose without Him in my life. He guides me and loves me. Church enriches my ability to share His word with others and encourages me to be Jesus’ hands and feet in serving and attempting to be like Him. I enjoy being a part of a community with whom I can share these beliefs. I feel recharged every time I go, and I love singing God’s praises. It gives me joy and a connection to my grandparents, who I have lost. They modelled His ways in all they did.
Can you tell me a highlight of your mission trip to Darwin?
I worked with staff and students from my school and Youth With A Mission (YWAM) with a group of young Aboriginal children. We created activities to share with them including art, making paper planes and playing soccer. I enjoyed rumbling with one of the little boys, as I would with one of my younger brothers. He ‘beat’ me up, stole my hat and giggled the entire time. It was awesome to make a connection and bring joy to a complete stranger. It was amazing how much fun we had with just paper and a ball, compared to what most kids have these days with technology. We communicated, interacted and made a connection face to face.
What’s next for you, with regards to your involvement with your parish or the broader church?
I recently supported my younger brother Jacob in his fundraising to head off on a mission trip to Darwin to serve YWAM and the Aboriginal community. We had a bake sale over a few weekends at St Joseph’s, which people very generously supported by purchasing cakes, biscuits and slices. Otherwise, at the moment, I will continue to altar serve, help with cleaning, and am looking forward to a youth night at my parish.
What did it mean for you to be nominated for a Bishop’s Award?
I was actually shocked I was nominated. It was nice to be acknowledged for the things I do in my parish and the community, but I serve and try to help others because I enjoy it and because it models to my younger brothers the right thing to do. I hope the small actions I take might make a big difference to someone else’s day.
Nominations for the 2019 Bishop’s Awards are now open to students, Years 7-12 and young people (who have completed Year 12 and are under 25 years of age).
If you know of a young person in your community like Thomas who is living out their values and faith, nominate them at https://www.mn.catholic.org.au/church-mission/youth/bishops-award/.