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Students reclaiming the faith, drawing together campus ministries from across universities

Cross-campus: Students are uniting across university campuses under new program.

YOUNG students from three Brisbane university campus ministries are on a mission to reclaim their faith.

On the first Tuesday of each month since 2017 students have congregated at a local inner-city space to share the message of Jesus through conversation, prayer, music and the breaking of bread.

Sally Hood and Vivien Dolar are the creative force behind the initiative, which is aimed at students from Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, and Australian Catholic University. 

“The idea of a young adult initiative really started to take root when Sally and I sat down together and really talked about our holy discontent about the lack of a unified young adult community within the archdiocese,” Ms Dolar said.

“We thought it would be a great collaboration between the three main Catholic university ministries – ACU Campus Ministry, Freedom at QUT and the UQ Catholic Chaplaincy – to create a space where young adults are formed, could pray together, share fellowship and community, and to simply journey with one another in their faith.”

Mrs Hood said Reclaim was “born out of a concern of seeing an unhealthy trend of young adults serving heavily in the Church or the wider community but not having their own space to gather, reflect, pray and be formed in their faith”.

“I longed for a space that I could direct the young adults I was ministering to that would provide them with fellowship, formation and a freedom to question and seek truth,” she said.

The three pillars of Reclaim are faith, fellowship and formation – with the ultimate focus on Jesus.

“A big part of the vision for Reclaim was to build up the capacity of the young adults that were seeking out this community,” Mrs Hood said. “We were also trying to address a growing need for formation and catechesis of our young adults.

“As such, we are very much guided by the questions and topics that our young adults are seeking a response to.

“There is a considered way in which we encourage topics or themes to be broken open – that is, we are seeking input that is prayerful, respectful, faithful and intellectually stimulating.”

Ms Dolar said: “We also have a time of reflection and discussion, where we ask them to form small break-out groups to really allow for intentional sharing and practise some vulnerability with one another. 

“Our night then usually ends with a cheeky ice-cream visit for anyone who wants to kick on or continue the discussions.”

Mrs Hood and Ms Dolar don’t see secular educational facilities as a barrier but rather a conduit for spreading the Word of God. 

“It’s not as difficult as one might think,” Ms Dolar said. “Of course, that is with the mindset and the prudence about the approach and language, not only used to bring Christ to students and young adults, but also to be Christ.”

Mrs Hood said: “Contrary to what many may think, my experience has been that the vast majority of students I encounter are all searching for something that is bigger than themselves.

“The difficulty lies in having adequate spaces that are healthy, thriving, evangelising and welcoming to Catholic communities to encourage them to continue their search within.”

In the two years Reclaim has been in operation, the Holy Spirit has poured His love into the hearts of many participants.

“We have seen so many young adults come out of their shell in this space,” Ms Dolar said.

“I think the witness of so many young adults authentically living Christ-centred lives has been such a great challenge and encouragement to everyone who attends – the team included.”

Mrs Hood hoped “Reclaim will be an ‘upper room’ of sorts for a new wave of young adults who are actively growing in their faith as they pursue the Lord in their own lives and vocations”.

“I pray that this is the beginning of a culture of welcoming, fervent and unashamed Catholic young adults in the archdiocese who are beacons of light to those around them,” she said.

Reclaim is on every first Tuesday of the month at the Blind Eye Centre, South Brisbane, at 7pm. 

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