ROADTRIPS down the eastern coast of Australia during January provide the perfect backdrop for the long drive to Bathurst – and not just for high-speed racing.
Rather, when summer comes, hundreds of young people from Australia and beyond gather for the week-long Summer School of Evangelisation at St Stanislaus College, Bathurst, one of four locations in Australia for this annual event in January.
For more than 30 years, Summer School has served the needs of young people around Australia and beyond, with workshops, seminars, dramas, testimonies, and community. This year, the invitation is open for young people aged 16 to 35 to encounter the Living God at Summer School.
Sarah Lucas, who moved to Brisbane from Melbourne last year due to her commitment to a relationship, will be returning to her home town for her 12th Melbourne Summer School. At 18, the now 29-year-old had a conversion experience at her first Summer School that prompted her to seriously commit to being a Catholic. She returns every year to give back in what she calls a “meaningful expression of service”.
“I feel that it revives me,” Miss Lucas said. “I’ve been Catholic for over 10 years now, and over time it gets harder. You need to be surrounded by people with the same values and ideals, and that’s what I find at Summer School.”
This year, organisers have taken up the Holy Father’s encouraging words to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, appropriately theming this coming Summer School, Alive in the Spirit.
Summer School takes its theme from the first letter of St Peter, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”.
Summer School director and Missionary of God’s Love Father Ken Barker said in light of Pope Francis’ call to be convicted of the Holy Spirit’s movements in life, it was “timely” for the Summer School to focus on the Holy Spirit.
“Pope Francis has been emphasising the need for the whole Church to yield more to the Holy Spirit, and not to resist the promptings of the Spirit,” Fr Barker said.
“He has been speaking about the Holy Spirit opening our hearts in love for one another, convicting us of the truth, opening our minds to the word of God, directing us in all that we do, transforming us into the likeness of Jesus, giving us the zeal and boldness to evangelise.”
Summer School, Bathurst co-ordinator Selina Hasham extended the invitation for Brisbane-based youth groups to come and experience the Holy Spirit at next year’s Summer School.
“Our hope is small groups might come, then they can go back and have people to share the experience with,” Ms Hasham said.
“It’s important that the faith journey is not isolated to one experience, but that it carries on into the rest of a person’s life. We’d welcome youth groups that could go home and carry on the legacy of living a life in the Spirit.”
Many young people from Emmanuel Community used to travel down to Bathurst each year, but with the recent success of Ignite, the presence of the community has dwindled.
Ms Hasham said Summer School was possibly instrumental in inspiring the Ignite Conference, and said it was a positive step in working with the Holy Spirit’s movement across the country.
“It’s fantastic that their experience at Summer School has led to further youth ministries,” she said.
Summer School is run by the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community, a Catholic community of families, singles, and priests and consecrated men and women (the Missionaries of God’s Love). The community is based in Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Summer School is on from January 5-12 in Bathurst, Melbourne and Perth, and from January 12-19 in Paterson, north of Maitland, NSW. Register online at www.summerschool.org.au
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