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Young Ministry Pathways

Fernando FarrugiaSupport for Fernando Farrugia’s work by The Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life and The Broken Bay Institute (BBI) will see him take up a partial scholarship in the mid-year for the Graduate Certificate in Theology specialising in Youth and Campus ministry.

The qualification is part of the unique partnership between BBI and The University of Newcastle, wherein BBI faculty are appointed conjoint UoN faculty delivering courses to the University’s School of Theology.

Fernando is currently employed as the Head of Religious Education Year 7-12 Curriculum at Rostrevor College, Woodforde and looking forward to connecting his practical knowledge with the concepts and frameworks.

The Journey

A ministry “not planned but passionately lived” could describe Christ’s calling of Saint Matthew with the command “Follow me”, yet the words belong to Fernando, as he describes his calling to Catholic youth ministry in South Australia.

What began as a priest’s request of two teenage brothers at Christ the King parish, Lockleys, has seen Fernando devote more than two decades to innovative and inspired leadership to Catholic youth.

“Our first group was small but really fun,” Fernando says, recalling the work achieved in the large Maltese community with catechetical contributions from Franciscan Sisters. “My passion grew. I experienced the Edmund Rice Camps, and I made the connection between youth, God and outreach.”

Youth ministry says Fernando “is the heart and soul of life” as it “calls people to action and to relationship. It facilitates discussion and enables the relationship with Christ and with one another to occur.”

The course aims at deepening Fernando’s scholarship and bringing his own hands-on experience to the attention of his peers. It is an experience he is ready for. “I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into all the concepts and frameworks and drawing on others experience and knowledge,” he says. “I’ve done so much with respect to youth ministry, but I’ve never formally studied specifically in relation to it,” Fernando says.

“So I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into all the concepts and frameworks, drawing on other people’s knowledge and experience, and making connections between my own life and what I’m learning.”

Fernando began his association with youth ministry back in the late 1980s but became more serious in 2000 when the parish priest in the Adelaide Archdiocese at Noarlunga asked him to become the youth minister. Before long, he took up a school-based youth ministry position in the north of the Archdiocese, which turned into a full time position at Gleeson College, Golden Grove.

“That job was pivotal,” Fernando recalls. “It took me to a conference in Sydney where I learnt about LIFETEEN, a big American Catholic youth ministry movement. It was just inspirational. I loved it and I came back and implemented the program at Gleeson College.”

In the period that followed, Fernando and his team helped train 25 young leaders from surrounding parishes. They also ran a youth Mass every Sunday and worked with NET teams, the Youth Mission Teams and True Love Waits in organising retreats for young people.

Having qualified as a teacher and accompanied young South Australians to World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, Fernando is now employed as the Head of Religious Education Year 7-12 Curriculum at Rostrevor College, Woodforde. “When the energy in young people is engaged anything is possible,” he says. “They get excited about their faith, its traditions and its actions in the world. They want to be a part of it.”

 

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