Brisbane: powerhouse of Catholic young adult ministry

Brisbane: powerhouse of Catholic young adult ministry

Br Barry Coldrey

Since 1976, Catholic Brisbane has been energised by the Emmanuel Community led by Shayne Bennett and his wife, one of the fruits of the Charismatic renewal in the Church. The gifted, enthusiastic members of the Community have always made youth and young adult ministry a high priority.

An experienced Brisbane priest remarked to the writer: "In the Archdiocese not a lot happens for youth ministry unless the Emmanuel Community are involved!"

In due course, Emmanuel Community members brought the National Evangelisation Teams (NET) to Australia and twelve years ago they commenced the three-day Ignite Conference for young Catholics which has grown from humble beginnings to a massive event on the last weekend of September. In 2014, 1,300 young people registered.

Freedom Catholic Mission

Meanwhile Emmanuel Community leaders have developed an integrated, continuing youth and young adult ministry around the charismatic word "Ignite" which includes many focus events and groups, including Ignite Live, the Ignite School of Music, Ignite High, Ignite Summer Camp, Ignite Connect and Ignite Young Adults.

Another vital new movement within Catholic Young Adult Ministry in Brisbane is the Freedom Catholic Mission on Campus at the Queensland University of Technology's two Campuses, the brainchild of Father Bavin Clarke (Chaplain) and Robert Schroeders, one of the key figures of young adult ministry in Brisbane who honed his Christian leadership skills within the Emmanuel Community, NET and a special six months training experience in Canada.

In addition, the Young Men of God has reached Brisbane. This is an association founded in Canberra ten years ago by Fr Ken Barker, Founder of the Missionaries of God's Love, a new religious congregation, and young lay Catholics.

The YMG Brisbane Co-ordinators are Mark Doyle and Mark Bennett and their other Contact Points are and email: and website: www.

Moreover, the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity has established its ministry in Brisbane. The Fraternity is an Institute of the Consecrated Life and details of its Encounters, Retreats and Prayer Groups, often targeted towards young adults, may be obtained from its Website: verbum and email

Into these wonderful "points of light" in young adult ministry, Fr. Paul Chandler, soon-to-be a pioneer member of the Brisbane Oratory, with five young lay Catholics – Nathan Costin, Abe Hewitt, David Hood, David Powick and James Roe - founded an additional ministry arm, Frassati, Australia.

This is a group of young Catholic men, some of whom share community in Frassati Houses where they live their Catholic faith in an authentic and sacramental way and support one another in brotherhood and ministry.

The founders have all had experience in NET Teams, and around Australia they observed a great need among many young men for a genuine Catholic faith and the meaning it brings to life. The new venture was placed under the patronage of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a quintessential example of a zealous, dedicated lay Catholic.

The pioneering year 2011 was a development period with some obstacles and setbacks but in 2012 there was a virtual explosion both of activity and of possibilities, all, the men are convinced, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Mark Coleridge has given the new movement his support.

The Frassati expect a stronger commitment than some other young adult activities. At their centre are the young men who live in the houses. In 2014, they had four houses or communities and sixteen men living in faith and brotherhood.

Those living in the communities share the following commitments made on an annual basis: Sunday Mass and, at least, one daily Mass per week; the Sacrament of Penance each month; some personal prayer each day; regular communal prayer; some spiritual reading and spiritual direction; works of charity; regular Eucharistic adoration; and attendance at Frassati events.

Milites Mariae

Along with the residents, other young men form Milites Mariae, the core group of around twenty, whose name comes from the youth group that Pier Giorgio himself began in his own parish church of La Consolata in Turin. This group meets monthly for dinner, a formation talk and Compline. These young men also engage regularly in serving at the altar in both forms of the Mass. The highlight last year for them was to serve with the Archbishop at the Corpus Christi Procession.

These men, along with a wider group of both young men and women, assemble each Monday night at St Joseph's Church at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane for Verso L'Alto, one of Pier Giorgio's sayings meaning "to the top" or "to the summit"; he was a great mountain climber.

These Monday nights always begin with Mass (once a month in the Extraordinary Form) followed by catechesis, formation, a talk and then supper. Up to sixty young adults attend. St Joseph's is central and allows young people to come from all parts of the City and, being close to the CBD, they can come straight from work.

Frassati Australia piloted Frassati Youth – a weekly event throughout Term Four, 2014. Frassati Youth has similar objectives to Frassati (Australia) but is directed at secondary college students.

The leadership is provided by some of the older men. The weekly meeting includes authentic catechesis and discussion rooted in Catholic tradition and spirituality plus dinner and games.

The Frassati Youth Team includes young men and women with experience in youth ministries, including NET Ministries Australia and Project Hatch Pty Ltd, as well as local parish youth ministries under the direct guidance of Father Paul Chandler, Spiritual Director of Frassati Australia.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.