By Joe Higgins
The Catholic Leader
HUNDREDS of friends and family crowded the steps of Sacred Heart Church, Rosalie, in the late hours of last Saturday to extend last-minute hugs and goodbyes to National Evangelisation Team Ministries’ 45 young adults, who begin a 10-month adventure spreading the Gospel.
Seven teams, made up of 23 Australians, 12 Americans, five Canadians, two New Zealanders, two South Africans and a Ugandan, have been sent from the NET commissioning Mass to reach out to both metropolitan and remote communities across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Among the missionaries were three young men from Kenmore parish in Brisbane’s western suburbs, Tom Sherratt, John Foxon and Matt Arendse.
Kenmore parish priest Fr Mark Franklin said it had been “a bit of a surprise” when three people from his parish had decided to go on NET at the same time.
He said the parish was going to “support them 100 per cent” with prayers and donations.
This was a great step forward for three young men involved in the liturgical and youth life of the parish, Fr Franklin said.
Kenmore’s youth group has gone from strength to strength, taking sizeable numbers to both World Youth Day Panama 2019 and Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth last December.
Tom, John and Matt had all gone to ACYF together last year.
The next 10 months would prove to be an “adventure of a lifetime” for them, too.
Tom, who would travel more than 35,000km around Australia on the NET national team, said joining the ministry had been a “life-changing experience” for him.
“I never really thought I could have that relationship with Jesus, I never thought there was someone who has such unconditional love and, yeah, it’s just exciting to know we can spread that message of Jesus’ love to other youth,” he said.
John, who would be traveling to New Zealand, said over the training period, he said he had a newfound purpose in life.
“I love this change and am really excited for New Zealand and what it has to hold,” he said.
“Shout out to Fr Mark (Franklin), he’s an awesome priest; he has really rejuvenated our youth group, which is really good.”
Matt, who would be stationed in Darwin, said his faith had grown a hundred-fold.
“NET has really accepted me for who I am, I guess I came out of my shell a lot,” he said.
“I’m really keen to spread the word of Jesus to everyone in the Northern Territory as much as possible.”
He said NET had given him the tools to evangelise and build relationships.
Fr Franklin said people in the parish were proud of the young men.
“It isn’t easy to take a year off to spend it volunteering; they are leaving their family, friends, sporting clubs and having to start again with a whole new group of people in a different part of the world, Australia or New Zealand,” he said.
He said it was a great learning experience too.
“It can be challenging for them but there’s great growth,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to mature for your faith and your personality and lots of skills that you may have.”