The meeting involved people of all ages, coming together to consider what a vocation might be like within the variety of agencies that fall under the umbrella of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Each member had their own story and their own reasons for being in that space.
Everyone was excited yet somewhat apprehensive about the yearlong vocation that they were about to commit to. Each participant in the program is placed into a variety of agencies for a four-week rotation over the course of a year. These may include, packing donations and delivering to the needy, tutoring or assisting with teaching both in and outside of school settings, creating new goods out of recycled products for donations, chaplaincy work, companioning in the refuge centre, creating care packs for seafarers who have been away from home for many months, assisting with youth groups, the list goes on. Each participant has a program designed to suit their curiosities, needs, desires and calling.
The Placement opportunities are grounded by the diocesan five foundations of church and ministry life and offer a commitment to serving all in the community so that they may experience life to the fullest. Each placement also involves spending some time in a parish environment. The aim of the program is to provide the participants with as many experiences as possible, in the hope that they might feel the calling and consider one as a vocation to pursue. The program has been successful for a number of years now and some of the participants have, indeed, landed a career in Pastoral Ministries.
Summer Harrison and Max Noble started the Pastoral Placement Program in 2020. In 2022 they were Youth Ministers in local high schools.
Max recalls: “I was at a leadership day at school, and I saw the flyer for the program. I didn’t touch it until a couple of weeks before the applications were due. I thought it would be a good opportunity out of school. I was wanting to explore some opportunities that further formed my faith. I’ve learnt a lot, that’s for sure. It has given me so many chances to explore my faith but also to meet like-minded people that I never knew were there. My favourite placements were working at Mission to Seafarers and Mum’s Cottage. They were both such eye openers. It was awesome to see the work that people do within our diocese to serve and love others. People probably don’t realise what is out there.”
We, the church of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, aims to be recognised as a visible, credible sign and instrument of communion with God and the unity among all people. Let’s put our faith in the Spirit and pray for blessings over the new participants as we build the Kingdom of God together.
To learn more about the Pastoral Placement Program go to: www.mn.catholic.org.au/church-mission/catholic-life/pastoral-placement-program
Image: Unsplash by Joel Muniz