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Brisbane student to say ‘g’day’ to Pope Francis

Cameron will talk to Pope Francis next week

Live papal chat: St Joseph’s Nudgee College Year 12 student Cameron Harder-Hutton will speak with Pope Francis and six other youth from around the world in a live video chat next week.
Photo: Emilie Ng

CAMERON Harder-Hutton found out on Monday that next week he will need to make an important phone call that he will never forget.

The Year 12 student will call Pope Francis at 1am on September 5 to take part in a global meeting with six other young representing the world’s continents.

He will be the only person to represent Oceania in the first-ever live video chat with the world’s youth and the Holy Father.

The video chat will be hosted on website Google Hangouts, who is sponsoring the initiative.

The news came as a surprise for the 17-year-old, who is also preparing for the Queensland Core Skills Test, which takes place less than two days before his big video call.

“I didn’t actually believe that it was going to be the real Pope,” Cameron said.

“I thought, there’s one person in all of Oceania and that’s me?”

While there is no set agenda for the live chat conversation, the Nudgee College prefect believed the meeting was the Pope’s way of “connecting with youths” as well as responding to feedback from young people around the globe.

Cameron said he was initially “worried” about what to say to the Holy Father and how to address him in the Hangout.

“But obviously the Pope’s sort of been pretty revolutionary as of late with the Church so I guess I could talk about that, and how he’s been setting the Catholic Church in a new direction,” Cameron said.

But Cameron was clearer about his first words to the Pope.

“I think to properly represent the continent, I’ll say g’day,” Cameron said.

Cameron said Pope Francis was “very fresh”.

“I liked him since before I was going to meet him,” he said.

“I’ve got this young mind and sort of see things one way, and the Pope seems to align with that.”

Pope Francis

Youth’s Pope: Seven young people from around the world will join Pope Francis in a live video chat on September 4

Pope Francis requested a young non-Catholic Christian represent Oceania during the live chat, and Cameron, a baptised Anglican, was the ideal and only proposed candidate.

Cameron said the Pope’s openness to speak to non-Catholics showed he was not “close-minded”.

“All encyclicals released by Popes, they don’t specifically state Catholics, but they talk about Christians and good people,” Cameron said.

“I guess it kind of makes sense that the Pope would be talking to people of other faiths.”

The schedule date could not have been timed better for the college prefect who earlier this year decided to enter the Catholic Church, but will be confirmed after his chat with the Pope.

“Yes, I’m converting,” Cameron said.

“When I came to Nudgee, it’s obviously a Catholic school, and have been essentially practicing Catholicism at Nudgee for the past four years.

“Coming to Nudgee opened my mind up to faith in general,” he said.

Cameron, who said he “always wanted to become Catholic” will be confirmed by Brisbane auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnigan on September 14 with four other students from the college.

“I felt like it was something I wanted to do,” Cameron said.

“It made sense to me at the time.

“It was an episode of clarity, knowing that’s what I want to do.”

Cameron is also allowed 20 of his friends and family to participate in the live chat with Pope Francis.

He said he had invited “people who I thought would really appreciate it, close friends, and my mum”.

Cameron said he didn’t think he’s be able to get the Pope to attend his confirmation.

“I’d be happy just with a selfie on the laptop,” he said.

St Joseph’s Nudgee College principal Daryl Hanly said he had “no hesitation” nominating Cameron for the live video chat.

“The Pope asked for a person who was Christian but not Catholic and I think in terms of how Christians and non can contribute to the faith element of this school through sharing, he was the right person to do it,” Mr Hanly said.

Mr Hanly said this video initiative showed the Holy Father “realised the richness that exists within the spiritually of youth”.

“And he also recognises that youth in Australia, youth in America, youth in anywhere else, by themselves will do nothing,” he said.

“We live in a global community and I think that to me will be the outcome, connecting the youth from the globe to understand that what we feel here and what they feel there is the same,” Mr Hanley said.

Cameron was one of hundreds of students nominated from schools under the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice and his founding order, the Christian Brothers.

Edmund Rice Education Australia executive director Dr Wayne Tinsey received an invitation from the principal at Cardinal Newman College in Argentina, where Pope Francis originates, to nominate students for the live video chat.

Both EREA and Cardinal Newman College are connected with Scholas Occurentes, a global network of schools and educational institutions launched by Pope Francis last year through the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

According to their website, Scholas Occurentes is “an education entity…where technology, arts and sports are used to encourage social integration and the culture of encounter”.

Cameron’s live Hangout on September 5 is just one of the many Scholas Occurentes encouraging networking among international schools.


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