By Fiona Basile
One hundred and forty men from across Australia gathered at the Collaroy Centre in Northern Sydney for the 6th National ‘Young Men of God’ conference.
The weekend was held between 14-16 October with men from all walks of life attending, and of all ages – the youngest being 16-years. Seventeen men from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne attended.
The theme of the conference was ‘Don’t be afraid to be a witness to Christ’, with the men enjoying daily praise and worship, Mass, adoration, prayer ministry and a series of talks and workshops.
Some of the guest speakers included Fr Chris Ryan MGL, Sam Clear, who walked around the world for 18 months for Christian Unity, authors and international speakers from Choicez Media Jonathon and Karen Doyle, Shayne Bennett, founder of NET Ministries and leader of Emmanuel community in Brisbane and Fr Ken Barker MGL, who founded the movement in 2000. There was also plenty of time for sports and social activities down by the nearby beach.
YMG is a movement of 16-35 year-old Catholic men committed to being transformed by God’s Word and empowered by the Spirit to courageously stand up and be men of example and influence within their family, workplace, community, country and the world.
Father Ken has a strong conviction that God has a plan for young men to rise up in the Church today with a deep faith, purity of heart and strength of character and to become leaders for the future.
Melbourne-based member Luke O’Connor said, “The Young Men of God movement is about a brotherhood of men walking together in faith”.
“Our mission is to re-ignite men throughout our country, to help them reach their God-given potential, to be heralds of the truth for future generations and to empower others to realise their immense value and purpose as children of God.”
“YMG is a valuable resource for empowering men to be leaders in their respective parishes and communities and in the world. We achieve this through conferences, weekends away, regular small groups and fellowship.
“One of the major things for YMG is that we are for all men from all walks of life no matter where they are on their faith journey. We have guys who are in RCIA through to consecrated and Priests, married and lay single men."
Ben O'Heir from Canberra is married with two children and one on the way. He said: “We need good men to stand up and be counted and we need to support our men for the future of the country.
“When you look back on your life at 70, what legacy are you going to leave? Young Men Of God is a resource for the Catholic Church.”
James McAlpin, from Melbourne, first heard about the conference through a close friend of his who had participated in the ‘Sisterhood’ national conference also held at the Collaroy Centre.
“When I think about the weekend and past experiences in my life, this has to be up there with the best of them,” he said. “I have been involved in many football trips and weekends away, but none of these weekends compare to the richness and constant ‘golden’ offerings that have been provided here.”
“Speaking to all the lads, who have their own unique stories to tell, was a highlight, as were the talks, the games and even the food. The many hours I spent with the Lord in quiet prayer and adoration was also a highlight.”
YMG is currently based in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. In Melbourne, YMG runs a fortnightly ‘Connect night’ for men. For more information, seewww.ymgmovement.org
Photos by James McAlpin
Photos above: Participants at the 6th National 'Young Men of God' Conference; Fr Chris Ryan MGL; Fr Dave Callaghan MGL leads mass outdoors; Participants at the outdoor mass; David Mazzarelli (Adelaide), Adam Crouch (Melbourne), Tim Davis (Melbourne), Joe Hicks (Adelaide) and Anthony Callisto (Adelaide). http://www.cam.org.au/news/young-men-of-god-gather-for-national-conference.html