A fresh approach to sharing faith

Getting teenage boys to open up is tough – but for Youth Minister John Nguyen, the key is vulnerability.

The 23-year old, who splits his time between Patrician Brothers College Fairfield and a videography role, says it’s crucial to his success in his job.

John isn’t technically a teacher, and describes his role as helping students find a place for their faith within the busyness of modern school life.

He speaks frequently to students, both publicly and one-on-one, about tricky topics like family, sexuality, and dating as a Catholic.

The faith was reignited in his heart

– John Nguyen

Being vulnerable enough to share his own experience is essential if students are to let traditional masculinity go and learn to “be a fool for God”.

“Sometimes teachers can’t be vulnerable with their students,” he said. “But a youth minister can.”

The Youth Minister role is a natural fit for John, who spent a lot of time at youth group during his teens. He joined the two-year Sydney Catholic Schools youth ministry pilot program at the beginning of 2017.

He sees his role not as imparting knowledge (“schools are already great at that,” he said), but demonstrating to students that a relationship with God is possible, and showing them what that looks like.

Specific responsibilities include visiting Religious Education classes, sports classes and homerooms, giving testimonies and providing much needed relief time for teachers.

John also helps out with faith retreats and runs the youth group, where he often sees students repeat his own experience of starting as a reluctant attendee and growing into faith.

“I remember one kid – nobody invited him to the youth group, he snuck in.”

“I thought ‘I’m just going to give this guy a chance’ and he didn’t just come back – he bought 10-20 other people after him.”

“The faith was reignited in his heart.”

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