By Selina Venier
ALICE Grogan jumps at the chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.
The Youth Adults’ Ministry (YAM) core leadership team member of St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, was first inspired by her lay missionary father and later, the example of Mother Teresa.
“I was inspired by (St) Mother Teresa (of Kolkata) to try and do little things with great love,” Alice said.
Impacting images of the beloved saint were of “her holding children, helping people on the streets…(and) as the one person to stop and help when others kept walking”.
Indeed a vivid bible passage from Alice’s childhood is the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), as first recounted by her father, John.
“Dad is the most significant person to shape my faith,” Alice, 28, said.
“(And) I didn’t know until I grew older that our bedtime stories were often bible parables.”
The well versed, faith driven and committed volunteer said she, older brother Joe and younger sister Caroline continue to be inspired and encouraged by their Irish Australian father.
“Dad is strong, independent, selfless, quiet and humble but intense,” Alice said.
“He leads through his actions.”
Born in Cohuna, northern Victoria, with ties to her mother’s Kiribati ancestry, Alice’s childhood was impacted by the family’s relocation as missionaries in Australia, Kiribati and Nauru.
The family’s Catholic identity was evidenced in the constancy of prayer and Mass attendance, and sometimes, through unexpected outreach to strangers.
“I remember dad picking up and driving random aboriginal women hitchhikers back to their families,” Alice said. “They were relieved.
“Or we’d find dad sharing banana rolls with a homeless person so we’d sit down and chat.”
When YAM had the opportunity to visit Timor-Leste on an immersion mission trip in 2014, Alice and Joe didn’t hesitate.
“I appreciated learning about East Timor’s culture and hard history,” Alice said.
“(And) seeing the Church’s great ministry there, meeting different Timorese people and communities.”
The result was a commitment to the East Timor Community Centre, Queensland.
In 2016 the Grogan trio, all members of YAM, shared their first World Youth Day together, in Poland, solidifying their desire to serve the Church.
“We shared so many special experiences, including Mass in the Jasna Góra Monastery, visiting Auschwitz and joining millions of pilgrims to share the closing Mass with Pope Francis,” Alice said.
“(And) in Jasna Góra, Joe and I became so immersed in the serenity of the praying and singing around the Black Madonna, we actually forgot to leave with our Australian group and the leaders had to come back and find us.”
During Lent this year, in a desire to offer practical help from Brisbane, YAM was inspired to assist the Young Order of Malta, Queensland, with a mission outreach titled “Medicine for Timor”.
Specifically it was an initiative guided by the Order of Malta’s Australian president Dr Ian Marshall and ambassador David Scarf, YAM organising “grassroots” practicalities with the constant help of cathedral staff, clergy and religious.
They encouraged cathedral worshippers and parishioners to “give up that five dollars for a coffee,” Alice said, and instead put it towards what westerners can readily buy at pharmacies “over the counter”.
The collective effort of donations, medicine and transport was valued at $7,000.
Also this year, Alice and Joe accompanied members of the Order for a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes, France, but again, it was through the lens of service.
“The annual Lourdes pilgrimage exemplifies the Order of Malta’s mission of serving the sick and poor and protecting the faith,” Alice said.
She “enjoyed every moment”.
“I enjoyed visiting the Lourdes grotto, praying where St Bernadette did, taking the baths, singing with the Irish and Americans, even wearing the traditional pilgrimage uniforms,” Alice said.
“Above all, I loved volunteering to help the Malades, people who were sick or elderly who the Order cares for.”
The Grogans are also involved, as a family, with the United Nations movement.
“After Caroline and Joe’s recent involvement with the University Scholars’ Leadership Symposium at the United Nations in Bangkok, (we’ve) become involved in the United Nations Association of Australia, Queensland division,” Alice said.
“It’s a new pathway and I’m keen to learn more about the UN’s humanitarianism.”
While her faith has been “tested” Alice remained focused on offering help as Christ’s servant.
“I think people’s faith, whether they are spiritual or religious, is tested and challenged everyday,” she said.
“(Like) when life gets hard, when they feel they are mistreated, hurt, treated unjustly, victimised, robbed of their self-respect and dignity.
“(And) when a person’s dignity as a human being is diminished, they feel they aren’t worthy, they lose faith in themselves and the world around them.
“They feel they are undeserving of what is good in life.”
Thinking beyond difficulties and towards hope, Alice said she “likes the quote, ‘Life is ten per cent of what happens to you and 90 per cent of how you react to it’.”
“Faith is staying positive despite the hardships you’re faced with,” she said.
Ignatian spirituality is a comfort, as is the wisdom of various saints.
“I realised how much St Ignatius’ spirituality resonates with me because of the way dad raised me,” Alice said.
“(And) I love St Augustine’s passion and beautiful writing, especially his restless heart.”
The tourism and events graduate who also works with Mercy Place, encouraged other young adults to think beyond accumulating riches and instead, acquiring the riches of the Kingdom of God.
“I don’t think people in my age demographic have been exposed to how much good they can do,” she said.
“I encourage other young people to spend even a small amount of energy towards helping.
“A little kindness goes a long way through Jesus.”
YAM co-ordinates an night Mass for young adults, on the first Sunday of the month in the Cathedral of St Stephen, next scheduled for October 1 at 7.30pm.
Young people and families are invited to join in worship, prayer and service of God’s people.