As College Vice-Captain and College Captain, on Tuesday, 8 March, Solomon Tuqiri and I (Daniel McSweeny), were fortunate to attend a Youth Leadership Lunch at the Cathedral House. The event involved a host of Sydney Catholic Schools with student leaders who we had both met at previous leadership events.
It was great to meet and talk to fellow school captains from both male and female schools who we hadn’t met before, and even better to have a hot meal provided by the caterers of the Cathedral House; which is where the Archbishop actually lives.
Solomon and I were unsure of what to expect from other leaders’ perspectives and stories, as well as what the Archbishop had to speak about regarding the current religious landscape of Australia, and ongoing issues including the LGBTQIA+ community and the role of women in the Church.
What We Found Interesting
At our table, we spoke with students from Bethany College, Cathedral College and Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, who were each respective captains in their Year 12 cohort.
It was interesting to talk about students’ experiences of the HSC and their involvement with school liturgies, particularly the Monte girls who explained a bit about the International Baccalaureate, and the Bethany girls who told us how they keep their chapel open at lunchtime for students to visit for reconciliation.
The mentor at our table, Cheryl Fernandez, gave us some discussion points, and was a great person to speak to during the lunch. Specifically, we discussed why high schools are moving away from parish community life, and how this can ultimately be improved. It was very interesting hearing different perspectives on why students were no longer attached to their parish or church community.
The Implications of COVID-19 on Spirituality
One of the issues raised, was the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this has impacted the spiritual gap from primary to high school life. I found that the Studies of Religion 2 course, which both Solomon and I study in the HSC, provided us with some background knowledge about the current religious landscape in Australia, and how citizens are choosing to move away from older church traditions.
As College Captain, I felt that these points could be addressed within Waverley and throughout my Prefect Team, so I hope to pass on some knowledge relating to why faith, and particularly spirituality, is important for the development of young men.
The Archbishop’s Presentation and Q&A Topics
The Archbishop presented at the end of the lunch, asking each of us to continue leading within our communities through faith, and that we stay aware of changing issues which can be addressed by Christian teachings. Following this, we were able to have a Q&A, where some students asked controversial questions relating to Catholic Church life and tradition.
Regarding the Church’s view on the LGBTQIA+ community, the Archbishop pointed out how God’s creation of humans was not a mistake, therefore minority groups should always be a vital inclusion for Church communities across Australia. Additionally, I was intrigued as to the Archbishop’s view that women hold the majority of major lay people roles, and thus are already involved with Church life in some regard.
Bringing Insights Back to Share at the Senior and Kairos Retreats
This information can definitely be used with our leadership of Waverley College, and we hope to take on some responsibility as both of us prepare for the Senior Retreat this term, and the Kairos Retreat next term. I am looking forward to Kairos after experiencing its value when I participated in spiritual discussions and presentations last year.
A Rewarding Learning Experience
Overall, Solomon and I found the experience to be very rewarding. We found that our knowledge of church life, background study into Studies of Religion 2, and our own perspective on Waverley College’s appreciation of faith, helped us to join in discussion and learn from fellow leaders.
We thank the organisation and catering of the ‘Sydney Catholic Schools’ as well as the individuals who contributed to the lunch discussion. I believe each leader in the lunch was able to take something away to their own schools.
Solomon and I specifically thank Cheryl for her kind words and care, and Ms Walsh for organising for us to attend and meet the Archbishop.
Year 12 College Captain