ASHLEIGH Green is becoming the new face of young Australian Catholics after being asked to represent Australia’s youth at the Vatican a second time.
Miss Green will represent Australia on the International Youth Advisory Body, established for the Youth Office of the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life.
She is one of 20 young people from five continents chosen to sit on the advisory body, which includes Catholics associated with international movements, associations and communities.
Miss Green is a social worker at CatholicCare in the Sydney archdiocese but lives in Broken Bay diocese.
She was an Australian delegate at the preparatory meetings for the Bishops’ Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment and a former youth ambassador for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.
Miss Green said the meeting challenged her to look at her faith as a gift.
“I mixed with young people from countries where Christians are persecuted, where they have to flee their countries in order to practise their faith,” she said. “I met one young person from Syria who, for years, travelled from country to country as a refugee, and said that the Church was her only home.
“I was challenged not only to appreciate my faith but to consider how a young refugee would feel if they turned up at my parish.
“I was challenged to ask myself: ‘If a young refugee came to my parish, would they experience welcome?’”
During a speech at the preparatory meetings, Miss Green said her job as a social worker directly shaped her understanding of what the Church needed to do for young people, and she hoped to make that case again in her new role.
“I will continue to make a case for a Church that engages young people who are disconnected and marginalised,” she said of her new appointment. We now have the wisdom of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit to draw upon, which speaks to the dignity of all young people, but particularly young people who are hurt and suffering.
“One of the key themes of Christus Vivit is ‘accompaniment’ and I am committed to building a Church that is more about relationship and less about a one-size-fits-all approach.”
The International Youth Advisory Body was established in response to a specific request made in the final document of the 2018 synod.
The document requested the creation of an entity like the international youth advisory body to reinforce the work being done by the Youth Office of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Being chosen to represent Australia on such a wide platform was overwhelming for Miss Green.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be given such a platform in the Church,” she said.
“I am committed to using it well – not for my benefit, but for the young people of Oceania and beyond.”
The Bishop Delegate for Youth in Australia Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green said Miss Green would be a strong voice for young Australians and young Catholics around the world.
“Ashleigh has been someone who has represented herself, as a young Catholic woman, and represented the Church in Australia with great distinction as we all prepared for the youth synod,” he said.
“Our Church in this country is blessed to have such fine young people and Ashleigh will be able to take her wisdom to the universal Church through this group, but also bring wisdom back to us to help grow the Kingdom of God here.”
The first meeting of the International Youth Advisory Board will be held in April.
Miss Green said “in the spirit of a true millennial” she will be sharing her experience using social media, multimedia and blogs.
“This appointment isn’t about me,” she said.
“It is about the young people of Australia and I’ll do whatever I can to share this journey with as many people as possible.”