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Don’t give up on the young and the Catholic Faith, is the message from a new partnership between the Sydney Archdiocese’s youth ministry, its staffers and Sydney Catholic Schools
Three days of faith, fun and friendship was barely enough for the more than 100 teenagers who attended a new Sydney Catholic Youth camp offering last week.
Named 10:10 after the line in St John’s Gospel, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’, the faith fest held at Elanora Heights was part of a bigger project in partnership with Sydney Catholic Schools for students in Years 9 to 12.
“This camp really deepened my faith and I’ve really got to understand God and grow closer to him. said Tayla Hawi, 15, who attends Holy Spirit Catholic College, Lakemba.
“Jesus is everything to me. I liked Eucharistic adoration on the last night, learning the surrender prayer to Jesus to give him all of my worries, and I enjoyed the talks.
Lucas Rubens, 16, from Clancy Catholic College, West Hoxton, said that the pandemic had seen his parish youth group dwindle in numbers, and he’d wanted to attend a Catholic camp for support against the many temptations offered to teens in the culture.
“I’ve tried four times to go to one but either I was busy or it was cancelled,” he said.
“With our society’s rules; you’ve got to be beautiful, you’ve got to be glamorous, you’ve got to be tough and you just need to do this or that, there are all these temptations to take an easier path.
“Whereas coming to a camp like this which is about forgetting all of that and connecting with God is difficult, it requires determination and your own consent to actually want to do this.
“I was so surprised how many people are similar to me, it really opened my eyes to the fact that I’m not alone.
“It’s truly a great experience for teenagers who are struggling with their faith and need a moment to just connect with God. It’s just three days and will really benefit them and help them truly see God and see the path God has laid for them.”
Gabriela Fernandez, 15, of Tangara School for Girls, Cherrybrook, said the 10:10 camp helped her to learn about and connect with God on a “deeper level”.
“I think having strong faith through my teen years is really important and it helps me to get through hard times and enjoy the good times as well,” she said.
“I know it’s a key age, I’m still learning about the world and figuring out who I am, and I really want to grow deep in my faith now so I can have it when I’m an adult and continue with it my whole life.”
Gabriela most enjoyed the Mercy night with adoration and hearing people’s faith testimonies which she said were “incredible”.
Chaplain for the three days, Fr Roberto Keryakos, said he was inspired by the faith of the teenagers who gave up part of their school holidays to pray and learn more about Jesus Christ.
“I was very impressed with the faith of the students here at the camp. It very much inspired me and gave me more reason for joy in this beautiful Easter week. I was a bit tired coming out of Easter at the parish but it only gave me another boost of energy.”
Sydney Catholic Youth team leader Milad Khalil said the 10:10 project includes gatherings at schools and parishes, a retreat for potential future youth leaders, and larger events including a conference planned for 7 September.