Smooth sailing for youth ministry

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Trinity Remar graduates, from left: Jamie Manalaotao, Thomas Kasanczuk, Larisse Moran and Alvin Matthews. Photo: Kitty Beale

A group of 17 Year 12 students at Trinity Catholic College Auburn have become the first ‘gold caravel’ in NSW to graduate from Marist youth ministry program Remar.

With an emphasis on community engagement and developing leadership capacity, the school-based program is like the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme but with a faith element. Students in Years 10 to 12 spend a year at each level – Red, Blue, and Gold – and complete a set number of community service hours at aged care facilities, charities, events, school and as altar servers and junior sports coaches. They also attend leadership camps and take part in activities which develop their faith. The program has a nautical theme to signify participants’ personal journey, with group leaders called helms and groups named caravels, after the small sailing ships designed by the Portuguese in the 15th century.

Trinity’s Remar coordinator Melissa Khoury said three years ago the school became the first in NSW to introduce the program, already established in Victoria. A graduation ceremony for the school’s Gold caravel, Genesis, on September 14 was an exciting first.

“The students know that they’ve started a legacy and a tradition at the school and in NSW,” she said. “That’s why it is so exciting. The main strength of the program is seeing them grow into such great leaders. Seven out of the 12 members of our current Student Representative Council are Remar students. Every two weeks the students in the caravel have a meeting which they lead themselves, so they’re improving their skills.

“I also really enjoy seeing how they understand their own faith. Each person is different, but they become more open in speaking about what they believe in and enjoy expressing the religious aspects [of their lives].”

Gold caravel member Jamie Manalaotao, 18, said the group’s first volunteer work within the community was at St Joseph’s Village, an aged care facility across the road from the school. She hopes to become a doctor or paramedic, and said the program had fostered a strong bond between caravel members and allowed her to reconnect with her faith.

“When I started Remar I was very disconnected with my faith so it really allowed me to reconnect with God, which is something that is quite rare these days,” she said. “At the camp that we went to in our first year they really focused on Christian leadership, and I think that is something that has helped a lot of us. Christian leadership is often said to be servant leadership. It’s not about telling people what to do, it’s about helping others and guiding others.”

For Larisse Moran and Thomas Kasanczuk, both 17, the program had an impact on their self-belief. Larisse plans to study commerce or economics next year. Thomas wold like to further his involvement in the Marist youth ministry program.

“Remar really allowed my confidence to grow,” Larisse said. “Not only did I engage in the ministry aspect with the caravel, but I also found the confidence to go out and do that on my own. In addition to work at the nursing home and the colour run as a caravel, I volunteered at Supernova and for the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Mother’s Day Classic.”

Thomas said he appreciated the caravel’s positive vibe. “Throughout my high school life I didn’t have much confidence as an individual, especially with openness, and I was nervous talking to people in general,” he said. “Now it’s second nature to me. The fact that everyone in the caravel is so open, and nice and so genuine is great. It also helps that everyone has a shared belief around Jesus and St Marcellin Champagnat at our school.”

Alvin Matthews, 17, would like to study architecture next year. He said the caravel was supportive and had become like a second family. “Personally, it has helped me to open up and discover more of myself as an individual – what I want to do, who I want to be, and just know myself more in depth.”

 

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