Oblate Youth Australia - Events - Oblate Youth Encounter

Oblate Youth Encounter

In 2000, a student at St Mary’s seminary, none other than Christian Fini, was asked to work with the youth at the parish of Saint John Vianney’s Parish in Springvale, Victoria. He established a youth group which became known as Youth Coming Together. Inspired by his recent travels to Italy, Christian Fini worked on a number of missions and youth camps. Following this experience, Christian took a small group of twelve young people away on a three day camp in Dromana, Victoria.

In 2001, Father Christian was ordained and sent to work in Mary Immaculate Parish, Sydney, where he established another similar youth group. With the help of Loretta Brinkman from Sydney, and Daniel Kelly from Melbourne, Father Christian organized yet another end of year camp involving the youth from the two parishes. The 2001 camp had now increased to 26 young people with youth attending from St John Vianneys, Victoria and from Mary Immaculate Parish, Sefton and Eaglevale, NSW. This experience, known again as Youth Coming Together was held in Gerroa, NSW.

The success of the camp in 2001 meant that Youth Coming Together Camp in 2002, had now increased to 40 youth attending with a further two Oblate parishes joining the experience. These two oblate parishes being Immaculate Conception, Sunshine, Victoria and Saint David’s, Tea Tree Gully, South Australia. Unbeknown to the group, this would be the last camp held at Gerroa as the group would grow so large it was time to move to a different location.

In 2003, the difficult and risky decision to move the camp location up the mountains ofo Fitzroy Falls, NSW, proved to be the right one. With 70 young people and 4 Oblates now attending, a move of location proved to benefit the group of such a large size. From this time on, this camp was now called the National Oblate Youth Encounter.

The news spread rapidly throughout the Oblate world, in 2004 over 100 youth attended the National Oblate Youth Encounter held once again in Fitzroy Falls, NSW. Students from Iona College in Queensland joined this encounter, as well as members from Rosies located in Brisbane. Another Oblate group in Fremantle, Western Australia joined, again adding to this National experience.

The next National Oblate Youth Encounter would bring forth some changes. A decision was made to move the camps to the start of the scholastic year, in January, as it became difficult for some youth to attend the camps on the previous date of December due to school commitments. The 2006 Encounter was moved down south to the Gippsland area of Victoria, where the camp facilities were appropriate for a growing group of young people, and it was a lot closer to Oblate Youth Central (located in Saint Mary’s Seminary, Mulgrave, Victoria). Following World Youth Day in 2005, a larger interest in the National Oblate Youth Encounter was recorded, with at least 120 young people attended with the Coonawarra Farm Resort bursting at the seams in 2006. Students from Mazenod College, Victoria, attended this year following the hype of World Youth Day. Again, a new batch of students from Iona College, Brisbane, attended, with two of these returning again from the previous year. There were also a number of Mazenod College students from Western Australia attending, along with the Oblate Youth members attending from the Fremantle parish. There were record numbers attending from the South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales Oblate parishes as usual, with at least 20 from each state attending.

The most recent camp held again at the Coonawarra Farm Resort, was much the same size as the year previous, but heading in a different direction. Father Christian, still heavily involved with the group, announced the theme of this year's Encounter as “ACT1V8 The Power”, referring to the bible verse Acts 1:8 – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses”. This bible verse directly links to the International Oblate Youth Encounter’s theme of “Witness To The World”, which will be held in Melbourne, 2008, leading up to World Youth Day. This camp conveyed a powerful message to the young people this year, to ACT1V8 their own power, in whichever talent they have, to assist in hosting an International Oblate Youth Encounter in 2008.

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