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University missionary says sharing Jesus is giving people Freedom

Freedom fighter: Campus missionary Vivien Dolar, from the Queensland University of Technology.

VIVIEN Dolar does not measure success by how many people show up to an event; she measures success by bringing people to Jesus.

“From what I see in the landscape of the Church, from the people I know, we need to facilitate people’s relationship with God first and foremost,” she said.

“That means making sure they know how to pray, know what the sacraments are about and the grace we need through them, and the humility we need to keep going to them. 

“It all has to start with that relationship and understanding what the Church is really about.”

Ms Dolar volunteered with National Evangelisation Teams ministries in 2015, and that transitioned into a role as a campus missionary with Freedom at Queensland University of Technology.

Freedom does not have a chaplain, but is pastorally supported by two Indonesian priests studying at QUT, Fr Thomas Ismoyo and Jesuit Father Antonius (Marwan) Sumarwan. 

Ms Dolar said the priests were a great help offering Mass and making themselves available for Confession.

She said the students she encountered on campus were hungry and searching for something.

“Stories I’ve heard from them (the students) that if they hadn’t found a little community on campus, they don’t know if their faith would be where it is now,” she said.

“They don’t know if they would have that support or that encouragement to keep striving for holiness and the Church and evangelising and spreading the Word of God.”

One of Ms Dolar’s best pastoral stories was Kloe Standish.

In 2015, Ms Dolar was standing behind the Freedom campus ministry stall during orientation week when Kloe came up to the stall.

Kloe, who had done NET in the past, said she had been looking for the Freedom stall everywhere.

“It was funny seeing her journey, and now she’s off and gotten married … It’s just been so nice discipling with her and seeing her grow,” Ms Dolar said.

She read the first reading at Kloe’s wedding two weeks ago, which she said was “so bizarre looking back on the last five years”.

“(She was a) little 17, 18-year-old and now (she’s) married and working for the archdiocese as well,” Ms Dolar said. 

“So many stories of students like, ‘Whoa, look at you now compared to when I first met you’.”

It was these stories that inspired Ms Dolar.

Freedom took inspiration from 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you’ve heard from me through many witnesses entrusts to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well”.

It was about finding faithful young people and catching them “on fire” so they could begin evangelising in their own lives.

That’s where the name Freedom came from.

“The heart of (Freedom) is just – let’s try and help people to have the freedom to be who God has created them to be,” Ms Dolar said.

“With that, the heart of freedom is the idea of spiritual multiplication and building up people and equipping them enough to go and do the evangelising.”

But the mission could be done better, she said.

Ms Dolar said campus ministry needed greater resources through money and people.

“It’s hard … we currently fundraise our own salaries essentially,” she said.

This made it more difficult to do the mission well.

She said if they could hire someone full-time then that person could have their full focus on Freedom, not split between campus ministry and other ways of making money to survive.

There was also need for a proper space.

“I know University of Sydney has a Catholic chaplaincy building,” Ms Dolar said.

“The first time I stepped into there, if that was at QUT, man, it would just be a big help to have a space that you can just let be your space. 

“Just having a place to invite students to that isn’t in the gutter of the uni; I know QUT and UQ, the chaplaincies are just on the outskirts of the uni and it’s very hard. 

“(Having a building) would be so great and just to be present to be a visible presence. 

“I’d love uni chaplaincy to thrive. 

“I think young adult ministry has such a big potential that hasn’t been tapped into as much as it could be.”

Written by: Joe Higgins
Catholic Church Insurance

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