When Sam Hill thinks back on her time in the Pastoral Placement Program (PPP), she is flooded with fond memories.
The former Rutherford local was one of the first people to take part in the initiative and played a vital role in its formation.
When she was just 20 years old, Sam wanted to see if there was a way she could experience church and ministry outside of its four walls, so she emailed John Donelly and Teresa Brierley.
The trio then met up for dinner and “the Pastoral Placement Program came to life”.
“The whole idea of the program is to give young people an opportunity to explore the work of the church beyond the Diocese, beyond parish communities and beyond education,” Sam said.
“It shows what we’re doing in the social services and outreach space and just how far reaching the work of the church really is.”
The program offers participants the chance to experience different workplaces and ministries across the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to show them how they can serve God, the local community, and the Catholic Church.
Sam says she has several key memories from her time in the PPP.
“There were many highlights for me,” she said.
“I still remember my first placement which wasn’t so much a highlight, but it was a lightbulb moment.
“I was just sorting clothes at CatholicCare Hunter-Manning for about four weeks straight during my placement and at the end of it I came to understand the reason behind what I was doing, it was actually going to help families who have just taken on a foster child.
“It was that realisation that often we think we have to do these massive things to change people’s lives. but really a big part of our mission as people of faith is to journey with others through the small things.
“All the small things add up to something really large – it’s not so important on what we do it’s how we do it.”
For Sam one of the most enjoyable aspects of the PPP was the Clinical Pastoral Education Certificate.
“It gave me an insight into pastoral care and showed how the different agencies are connected to the Diocese, such as the Mission to Seafarers and Mum’s Cottage,” she said.
“Even though what they do is slightly different to one another, they all make such a difference in small ways to the lives of the people they encounter in their day-to-day activities.”
Earlier this month Sam reunited with her peers and Diocese staff at the first PPP Alumni Dinner on Friday 5 August.
The room was full of joy as people reconnected with one another and reflected on their time in the program and their mission.
Sam encourages anyone who is interested to join the program – she says you just need to approach it with an open mind.
“Go into the program without any expectations, and be really open-minded,” Sam said.
“If you go in with expectations, it might potentially close you off to experiencing the program in its fullness. My advice is to be open to whatever experience is presented to you and say yes to any opportunity.
“It’s a wonderful initiative of the Diocese.”
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