Twelve years later she is moving on to a new role as campus minister at her old school, Emmaus College, Rockhampton.
The turning point in her life came in January 1993 when she attended a Common Ground Consultation in Brisbane with speakers from America and Australia.
‘We learnt about Comprehensive Youth Ministry (a structure for a holistic approach to parish-based youth ministry) which has been adapted by lots of youth ministry workers in dioceses around the country and forms the basis for the approach most of us use.
‘It gave youth ministry in Australia a common language and purpose.
‘My understanding and insight into this approach over the following years is perhaps one of the influences in the longevity of my ministry.’
She also attended the Movers and Shakers leadership training program as a participant and became one of the facilitators/conveners over the years.
‘I have watched it evolve and grow over the years into one of the most valuable youth ministry programs in the country.’
But she said the biggest turning point was probably inheriting the role of youth ministry co-ordinator in 1993, taking on board what had gone before but also working with a wonderful group of workers across the diocese.
She came to realise that this was her vocation – something God was calling her to do.
‘The learning and understanding of the Ôbigger picture’ of ministry with young people in our Church and encouraging others to believe that as well. ‘This has often led to my involvement at state and national level activities as an advocate for young people in our Church.’
She said many people have had a huge impact on her life and ministry
‘I wish I could name them all but it’s impossible,’ she said.
‘The young people across my diocese, state and nation first and foremost.
‘The people who have loved and supported me through the highs and lows, especially family and friends not involved directly in ministry who have always done ‘Joy checks’, made me face reality sometimes.
‘My co-workers at Diocesan Pastoral Services – they would have some stories (not to mention very bad photos) – especially Marcia Mansfield.
‘Bishop Brian Heenan, an inspiration, guide and good friend.
‘An amazing man who has always, and still shares, my vision for young people in the Church and who has trusted some of the weird ‘Joy’ moments.
‘Queensland Catholic Diocesan Youth Co-ordinators (QCDYC) members. This group of people has been one of the main reasons for my 12 years because they are my peers.
‘At the risk of offending some of them (and they have all been important) but I will mention one – Michael Hart (co-ordinator of Parish Youth Ministry Services in Brisbane archdiocese).’
Joy said she doubted whether she would have lasted as long as she had in ministry without his friendship, tolerance and support.
‘There’s also Bob and Maggie McCarty – youth ministry experts (and friends) from the United States and especially Archbishop John Bathersby with whom I have been fortunate to travel on two World Youth Day pilgrimages.’
Her highlights in the job have included attending three World Youth Days – Paris in 1997, when she was on a backpacking holiday around Europe, and as a co-leader on pilgrimages in 2000 to Rome and this year to Toronto.
Joy said that youth ministry was a career choice, a vocation.
‘It is not age dependent, it is a calling to a very special and essential ministry within the life of the Church in a variety of ways.
‘The model of youth ministry has changed from just having youth groups to a more comprehensive approach encompassing all aspects of a young person’s life.’
She said that after much reflection, prayer and discernment she knows that she is being called to be inspired in a different area of Church life.
‘Shaking the dust from my sandals, It is not without sadness that I take this new path in my journey.
‘I have learned a great deal about life and people during the past 12 years and will forever hold the memories, friendships and learning’s in my heart. ‘I will miss what I have known but I am filled with excitement and enthusiasm for life as a campus minister.
‘I look forward to each new adventure with the knowledge that I have had solid foundations on which I confidently take each new step.’
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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