THIS year, CCI is once again sponsoring The Ignite Youth conference taking place in both Brisbane and Sydney. We had the opportunity to ask Kym Keady, the National Director of Ignite Youth a few questions about the impact of the event! Kym has been working in youth ministry for over 25 years. As a counsellor, author, youth worker, inspirational speaker, wife, and mum to 3 young adults, she continues to draw on her passion to help young people realise their potential and worth. She has been involved in Ignite Youth since it first evolved as an outreach of the Emmanuel Community in Brisbane. Having volunteered for many years in both event and formation areas within Ignite Youth, she became a popular choice to lead Ignite Youth as the Director when the opportunity arose in 2018.
How does the conference help to engage Catholic youth?
Ignite Conference is about creating a place where young people can encounter God and engaging them where they’re at in their faith journey. The reality is that many young people drift away from the Church in search of things that seem more exciting, more fast-paced, more popular and more meaningful. Ignite Conference seeks to showcase the incredibly meaningful aspects of the Catholic faith in an authentic way, whilst also creating a place for the exciting and fast-paced expression of life. To do this, we use contemporary methods and expressions in the arts, music and media. It is wonderful to see a teenager who is jumping around in a concert atmosphere, and then soon after they are sitting in awe during a time of adoration or prayer.
How does the sponsorship of CCI help?
When it comes to evangelisation, we are competing with the big budgets of movie studios, music festivals and technology companies who are also trying to engage young people. It’s almost impossible to play at the same level, but to create events that have an appeal to this generation costs money. In a culture where people are not used to paying for Church experiences, this becomes a challenge. The support that CCI provides helps us to take the Ignite Conference to a level that would otherwise be impossible. Not only does it help us to make the event a contemporary and powerful experience, it also helps us keep the registration cost as low as possible.
Why do you believe the Ignite experience is so valuable for young Catholics and what impact do you think it has?
We make sure Ignite Conference is an enjoyable event, but we also make sure that it is packed with authentic faith experiences. The sacraments are front and centre at the Ignite Conference, and thousands have had powerful experiences over the years. We know that if someone has a genuine faith encounter, then they are better positioned to be sent out into their local parish to spearhead the Church of the future. A phrase that our team often uses is “not just changed for a day but transformed for a life”.
What are you doing differently this year to enhance the experience?
We have been holding the event in Brisbane for many years, and it is amazing how much it has grown and how positively it has been embraced. In 2019 we are holding Ignite Conference in Sydney as well as Brisbane, for the first time. People have increasingly been travelling to Ignite Conference from all over Australia. We were also invited by the Sydney Archdiocese to hold the conference locally this year which means that the event is more accessible than ever before.
What are some of the challenges of organising an event as large as this one?
We are committed to making Ignite Conference in Sydney just as amazing as people have been experiencing in Brisbane for many years. This involves us taking a large team from Brisbane, to work alongside a group of Sydney locals who are partnering with us. When it comes to youth ministry, resources are always a challenge. This is especially the case for the Ignite Conference, where we are committed to offering a world class contemporary event. We manage to navigate this challenge thanks to the passion shown by an army of volunteers, as well as the shared vision of our partners, such as CCI.
What does the Ignite Youth Conference look like in the future?
One part of me wants Ignite Conference to continue exploding with attendance and locations around Australia. In reality, I am very aware that it has been the Holy Spirit who has always directed what we do, and opened up the right opportunities at the right time. When the Archdiocese of Sydney invited us to hold Ignite Conference in Sydney, we knew it would be a challenge, but we are confident that we’re heading in the right direction. Now that we are on the verge of our 2019 conferences, it’s an exciting time. It’s exciting to see what will happen in people’s lives at the conference, and it’s exciting to get a sense of what’s next.