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Fresh Fire Ignited for Perth Youth



Scotty MacDonald (L) interviews Australian cricketer Jason Behrendorff (R) © Greenlight Visual Media

“The whole event just made me want to connect with God” said 13-year old high school student, Stefan, as he left Perth’s first Ignite Youth event recently held at Prendiville College in Joondalup.

From helpful car park attendants to allocated games’ facilitators, seamless high quality video presentations to relevant Gospel teaching, plus a national sporting hero and the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, this was an evening that was loud, bright, smooth, dark – and very slick.

Amidst the several hundred young people present, from young teens upwards, there was a feel of the United Nations with every culture and language group present. Although inspired and partly led by a handful of fly-ins from Brisbane, the majority of those heading up the event and serving in different roles were all home-grown youth from the Archdiocese of Perth.

Following a time of praise and worship that would rival any Hillsong or Riverview celebration, special guest Jason Behrendorff appeared on stage. Behrendorff, 24, who some weeks ago was named cricket’s Domestic Player of the Year and is currently listed with Western Australia and the Perth Scorchers, spoke firmly about the role of faith in his life.

“The biggest test for my faith was moving from Canberra to Perth” he said. “Although I had been raised as a Christian, it was suddenly up to me if I wanted to continue with my faith journey. In all honesty, I threw my toys out of the cot at first. But I eventually came to realise that it’s not about my timing or my plan; it’s about God’s plan. Today I am trusting in him.”

The evening’s theme of “One Love” was then highlighted through an engaging and humorous presentation given by Northam RE teacher and WAFL field umpire, Ryan Shelton.


Ryan Shelton shares on the theme of "One Love" © Greenlight Visual Media

“God doesn’t force himself onto us,” said Shelton, “but rather gives himself to us and makes himself freely available so that we can experience him in our lives.

“If you want to experience the real love of God,” he challenged the young people present, “then be prepared to change and to be a people of action.”

As the mood changed and the lighting dimmed, the music softened and Perth’s youth were invited to experience God’s presence. Many responded to the invitation to say “yes” to Christ through prayer, through reconciliation and through the action of visiting the large Cross present in the auditorium.

Ignite Youth’s vision is based on the words of Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in 2009 which state that “the main task for us all is that of a new evangelization aimed at helping younger generations to rediscover the true face of God, who is Love”. If this first Ignite Youth evening is anything to go by then the young people of Perth certainly have a vehicle to help them to achieve this.

With five more similar evenings planned across the metropolitan area this year on 17 April, 19 June, 14 August, 16 October and 27 November it seems the time has come to get the school or parish minibus fired up and filled with youth on a Friday night.


A warm welcome and lots of fun for everyone © Greenlight Visual Media

At the end of the evening, Behrendorff was only full of praise. “If someone’s never been to a religious event that is a lot of fun, with awesome music and games, which is welcoming and open, then this is the type of evening they need to attend. It proves hands down that religion doesn’t have to be dull or outdated.”

As for 13-year old Stefan, he “loved the way the music reached out and made everyone want to join in” and had a great experience of the Sacrament of Reconciliation so much so that he had to be pressured into going home. He certainly left happy. His parents on the other hand were ecstatic.

For further info on Ignite Youth future events in the Archdiocese of Perth, please contact Catholic Youth Ministries (CYM) on (E), (W), (FB) igyouthperth.


Hangin' out with Jason Behrendorff © Greenlight Visual Media