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New Caritas diocesan director wants to inspire youth to care for the poor and marginalised

Andrew Knife: “I believe very strongly that we have a responsibility as followers of Christ, regardless of what tradition we come from, to take what he said and to live it out.”

INSPIRING young people of Brisbane archdiocese to reach out to the poor of the world is an early priority for Caritas Australia’s new diocesan director Andrew Knife.

Mr Knife, who recently took up the director’s role, said he’d “love to see more youth engagement” with Caritas, the Church’s aid and development agency.

“Traditionally organisations like Caritas and others that are trying to provide funds, obviously a big priority of what we do needs to be fundraising but I also believe very strongly in engaging youth,” he said.

“Although they may not be in a position to give funds because they just don’t have access to them at the moment, if they can get engaged now, if they can start learning about what’s happening in the world around them now, then they can become advocates.

“They can talk about it, they can tell other people about it, they can get excited about it and then in the future, when they’re in a position to do so, they’ll have already the investment in their hearts of what’s happening and they’ll more likely want to get behind it.”

Mr Knife is convinced of this when he considers his experience from his youth.

“Ultimately, for me, growing up I heard stories of people involved in mission and aid and development work, and I clearly remember turning on the television over Christmas 1984, and around that time, the summer holidays of 1984 and going into 1985, I clearly remember watching the stories … about – at the time it was Ethiopia,” he said.

“(Those stories and images) stuck out in my mind and I know that that shaped some of who I am and my desire to see change.

“The thing is, we need to keep doing that.

“We need to keep that cycle happening so that the people coming after us – my kids and the people that they’re engaging with, and other people around – that they will be drawn into that engagement as well so that into the future there’s still people out there (who want to be involved and want to support this work).

“Because we know that the poor are always going to be with us.

“We know that that’s not going to change, that there will always be people going through this, but we all corporately have a responsibility.

“We who have much should be seeing ourselves as (being) in a position to help those who don’t have as much … to be able to make sure that resources are more reasonably shared.”

Mr Knife said faith was central for him.

“In practice I’m not a Catholic. I come into the role from Anglican and then Charismatic background but I believe very strongly that we have a responsibility as followers of Christ, regardless of what tradition we come from, to take what he said and to live it out,” he said.

“I was just recently reminded that the first public speaking that Jesus did, recorded in Luke 4, where he read from the scroll of Isaiah – He said, ‘Today the Spirit of Lord is upon me. He’s anointed me to bring sight to the blind and freedom to the captives’.

“That’s the basis of all that we are … it should be about bringing that Good News.

“The Good News to someone who’s poor is not just a spiritual thing; it’s got to be a physical thing.

“It’s all well and good to walk up to someone who’s poor and say, ‘Jesus loves you’ but, even in another part of Scripture – it was in (the Letter of St) James – to say ‘Go on your way, be warmed and filled …’, without actually doing something it’s pointless.

“So, for me, absolutely, faith is a huge part of it but the faith drives me to do what I do rather than just standing back and saying ‘Oh, yeah, I believe in this or I believe in that’; I need to be active about that.”

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