In today's secular and materialistic world, it is often hard for young Catholics to explore and express their faith in a positive and supportive environment.
Each year, the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community provides for this need with their annual Summer School of Evangelisation, a week-long gathering of Catholic youth from all over Australia to develop and celebrate their faith.
The Melbourne Summer School was held in Rowsley, Victoria, from 10-17 January 2010 and brought together over 100 participants from every state.
The theme for 2010, 'I am the Bread of Life, he who comes to Me shall never be hungry' (Jn 5:35), was addressed by speakers including Fr Mark Freeman, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Hobart, Fr Chris Ryan MGL, Rector of the Missionaries of God's Love Seminary, and the Youth Mission Team Australia.
The Summer School aims to bring young Catholics together to grow in their faith in an environment that fosters and promotes the Gospel message. Participants were invited and encouraged over the week to have a meaningful encounter with God in their lives, and to be able to embrace His individual plan for them.
The aim was fulfilled when the group was commissioned to go back out into the world and share what they had learned with a new hope and purpose.
The lectures and seminars addressed relevant and engaging topics such as 'Who is the Church?', 'How to be fed by the Word of God', 'Love and Responsibility' and 'How can I share the Good News?'
Throughout the week, personal prayer was a great source of strength and grace. Mass was offered daily, Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament was continuously available and each day began with Morning Prayer from the Divine Office.
Much of the success of the week was due to the witness of young people to each other. Their witness as they endeavoured to live lives devoted to Christ was motivating and affirming.
As he delivered his homily during the final Mass of the week, Fr Chris Ryan MGL encouraged everyone present to take up the challenge of the Gospel into the world.
What is so often called the 'real' world is improperly named; it is only a shadow of the truth which had been glimpsed in the hearts of the people there and is to be fully revealed at the end of our journeys. With this in mind, the congregation was sent out with a mission to transform the world by the power of the Holy Spirit, inspired by a new hope and vigour.
Johanna Banks is a secondary school student from Melbourne.
She attended her first Summer School in 2010.