THERE’S a new youth co-ordinator on the Surfers Paradise “block”.
Parish priest Fr Tim Harris announced last weekend (March 26-27) the appointment of Eliza Kerklaan, an Australian Catholic University (ACU) student who will graduate within a year with a Bachelor of Social Science (counselling).
The 22-year-old begins the full-time role tomorrow (April 4). The role was made possible because of a bequest given through the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Fr Harris said Eliza’s involvement “in a range of events for youth” at ACU and her “strong social justice dimension in her interactions with young people” adds to what she will bring to the south coast community.
Eliza, who originates from Quirindi, 60km south of Tamworth in New South Wales, said her main aims were to raise awareness of social justice issues and inform young people about what it meant to be a committed Catholic.
“My overall goal is to help young people in the parish to see and understand the problems in today’s society and to raise awareness of those issues,” she said.
“I want to show how important social justice is and bring more youth back to the Church.”
Eliza said homelessness was one such “problem” she hoped to raise awareness of, having organised outreach in this area while studying.
“Most people don’t realise until they start to get involved with the homeless that 80 per cent of them fall into the 13 to 25-year-old age bracket,” she said.
Fr Harris supports Eliza’s social justice thrust and recognises young people desire to make a difference.
“Experience has shown that young people today, whilst not necessarily practising their faith in terms of regular Mass attendance, are vitally interested in real life issues that involve the dignity of people,” he said.
“The future of the planet is a case in point … (and) there are many other examples that inspire and engage young people.”
Full of enthusiasm, Eliza has been searching for coastal accommodation, having seen more of her sister, a pathologist in Brisbane, since beginning her degree.
One other older sister is a teacher and another a social worker.
Eliza’s younger brother is completing Year 12 at McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth, where she too attended, having to travel three hours a day – leaving home at 7am and returning at 5pm.
She has 200 hours of practical placement to complete her social science degree and has special interest in playing hockey and listening to music.
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