YOUNG Catholics who served on NET Ministries Australia this year celebrate 25 years of sharing God’s work in their lives with young people around the southern hemisphere.
National Evangelisation Teams (NET) Ministries began with one team in 1988 working in five dioceses during a three-month pilot program.
Since then, the peer-to-peer Catholic youth ministry has established teams in more than 24 dioceses across Australia, six dioceses across New Zealand and two dioceses in Papua New Guinea, and worked in dioceses in Malaysia, Singapore, the Marshall Islands, Palau and Uganda.
This year, 51 young people gave up a year of their life to serve in nine different teams across Australia.
Founding director Shayne Bennett said he could not have anticipated the future of NET Ministries Australia when starting it 25 years ago.
“While I knew what was happening in 1988 was exciting, significant and important, I certainly did not have 2013 and quarter of a century of ministry in mind,” Mr Bennett said.
He said one standout was witnessing the young people who have served on NET achieve “extraordinary things” through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Mr Bennett said another was the way staff members sacrificed themselves to serve others.
“They served joyfully and with great courage and without them this ministry could not exist,” he said.
“The simple act of saying ‘yes’ by both staff and volunteers has been a source of grace and transformed lives in the US, Canada, Ireland and Africa.”
Mr Bennett’s wife and NET chief executive officer Shanelle Bennett said young people were “drawn to others their age” for love, hope and joy.
“Jesus enters through the door of their lives, via the witness of those who are willing to lay down their lives to be part of teams that span this nation,” Mrs Bennett said.
Wagga Wagga Bishop Gerard Hanna said NET was a “wonderful outreach to young Australians”.
“I have been aware of the work for over 20 years and experienced, personally the fruitful endeavour of these young people during my time in the parish of Moree,” he said.
Bishop Hanna said the enthusiasm of the young people on NET was “grace filled”.
“I offer my congratulations to all staff members and volunteers who have served the apostolate so faithfully over the years,” he said.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney was to speak at the first round of celebrations on Saturday, November 16, at the 25th Anniversary Gala Fundraising Dinner.
NET supporters and benefactors are also invited to a 25th Anniversary Dinner at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Saturday, November 23.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane will celebrate at the 25-year anniversary Mass at Twelve Apostles Catholic Church, Jindalee, on Sunday, November 24.