In September Ignite Youth, a ministry of Brisbane's Emmanuel Charismatic Community, once again hosted the largest and most dynamic Catholic youth event in Australia – Ignite Conference 2014.
This year's theme "Illuminate" takes up the message of Ephesians 5:13: "Everything that is illuminated becomes a light", and the four guiding concepts of Ignite are "encounter", "experience", "equip" and "empower".
This theme highlights the truth that Christ is not only a light in the shaded times of our lives, but that having received God's light ourselves, we are then all called to illuminate the world in which we move.
Every year this is evident through the hundreds of young people who come from all around Australia and encounter Jesus, experiencing light and freedom in the areas of darkness they bring with them, many making a choice to embrace Christ for the first time.
The Ignite Conference was first held in 2001 when over one hundred attended. Between 25-28 September 2014, in its 14th year, Ignite drew more than 1,200 young people to the Mueller Performing Arts Centre in Rothwell, a suburb of Brisbane.
The Ignite Conference is not just about personal experience as it challenges young Catholics to take the light out to others, many doing so in their schools, families, workplaces and local communities.
Ignite Youth's experience of the past 14 years tells them that as a result of Ignite Conference, more than 100 young people have taken up the call to discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, with many others hearing the call to become more active in mission and ministry.
At the Conference there were 70 presentations in parallel sessions and 120 workshops available to cater for varying age groups, tastes and interests. Among the speakers were Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Fr Rob Galea, founder of Stronger Youth, Fr Chris Ryan of the Missionaries of God's Love, Pat Langrell, founder of Theology on Tap, Paul Ninnes, Director of Real Talk, Roby Curtis of Blind Eye Ministries, Carrie McCormack of Mother Effect and Shayne Bennett, Moderator of the Emmanuel Community.
The 2014 Conference expanded the experience with a broader festival area, including an onsite skate-park, a "Conversation Corner", as well as a larger Vocations and Ministries Expo and Café.
Youth and Young Adult Catholic leaders around Australia and New Zealand who have not yet experienced Ignite should consider being part of the 2015 Conference.
Meanwhile, the Conference leaders - Luke Plant and Scotty McDonald - wish to thank the sponsors who gave such invaluable support: Australian Catholic University, Net Ministries (Australia), Catholic Super, Catholic Mission, Vocations (Brisbane) and Media Partner, Australian Catholics.
Meanwhile, behind Ignite and much of Brisbane's Catholic young adult scene there is the remarkable Emmanuel Community, a development of the charismatic movement in the Australian Catholic Church.
Since its foundation in 1975, Emmanuel has been a dynamic force for renewal, especially among young people and is now one of dozens of "new movements" energising the Church worldwide.
The Church formally welcomes the contributions of these new communities and movements, such as Emmanuel, which was, itself, recognised officially in the Archdiocese in 1979 and by the Holy See in 1990.
Emmanuel Youth's vision is to see the Church full of young people active and on fire for God, the Church and its evangelising mission. Emmanuel arranges events such as Ignite but also ongoing ministry outreaches to teenagers and young adults in conferences, rallies, camps and retreats.
Each initiative seeks to provide opportunities for young people to personally experience Jesus, grow together in faith and be empowered by the Holy Spirit for mission in their world. However, Ignite Conference is the jewel in the Emmanuel Community's ministry crown.
New youth initiative
At the start of 2014, the Emmanuel Community launched a new youth initiative through which it hopes to reinvigorate young people in the wider Catholic Church in Australia.
The initiative, Ignite Youth, combines existing youth ministries, like Fuel, the high school summer camp Zero Gravity, and the music conference, Beat, under one banner.
The various events running under the umbrella of Ignite Youth include Ignite Live, Ignite School of Music, Ignite Summer Camp, Ignite Connect, Ignite High, Ignite Young Adults and the signature Ignite Conference.
Emmanuel Community Moderator Shayne Bennett announced the changes at a lunch for youth ministers, clergy, pastoral carers and media at the Ignite Conference. Shayne said the growth of the Ignite Conference has had a great impact on the Emmanuel Community.
"I find many young people in Brisbane have a fire, an ignition if you like, and this is what Brisbane can offer to the Church in Australia.
"As good as events like the conference is, we're conscious that young people go back into ordinary life and the distance between events and the attempt to live life on a day by day basis, it's very challenging; it's difficult to live a committed Christian life in our Australian secular culture."
Hence, the Emmanuel Community had reorganised its range of youth and young adult ministries as mentioned to provide weekly and monthly events – as well as annual spectaculars – to meet the needs of Brisbane's Catholic youth for ongoing, year round support and encouragement.
Contacts: Ignite Youth, an Initiative of the Emmanuel Charismatic Community, email@example.com, www.igniteconference.com.au, (07) 3217-5199 and PO Box 126, Paddington, Qld 4064.