The CYT Mission Team was established as an outreach of the Christchurch Catholic Youth Team in 2011. The Team consist of volunteers who travel principally around the city and diocese of Christchurch and beyond, sharing the Gospel with young people. This can include visits to regional Canterbury, the West Coast, Waimakariri and other parts of the South Island to help facilitate Catholic youth ministry.
A commitment to Mission Team begins with a 6-week training programme. During this programme, Team members are trained in all the practical skills required to evangelise youth and share the Gospel. Training includes, but is not limited to, formation in: Prayer and Scripture, Basic Apologetics and Faith, Team life, Conflict resolution and practical retreat leading skills and other general Youth Worker skills. In addition, ample time is spent in personal and corporate prayer, with mass, fellowship, and spiritual direction.
All team members are housed together during team training. This “community lifestyle” helps prepare the team for the challenge of living in an authentic Catholic community, as well as providing opportunities to live out all the practical lessons learned in the training sessions. Throughout the year the team is then based in a “Mission Team house” within the city of Christchurch. Here they live together in an authentic Catholic community, supporting each other through daily acts of prayer, the sacraments, fellowship, and service. Each Team member commits to live a year of single life, focused on witnessing to the love of Christ in the way they interact with other team members and those they minister to and with.
The Ministry conducted by the Mission Team reflects its primary mission of connecting with young people, accompanying them on a faith experience, proclaiming the Gospel to them and building bridges of trust that hopefully will invite the young people into a lifelong relationship with Christ and his church and begin their journey as his disciples.
This practically consists of assisting with and planning and facilitating programmes of peer-to-peer ministry, including School and Parish youth programmes and retreats, as well as other events. The general focus is on High school age students from Years 7-13, but the MT is also involved in ministry for those outside of these age groups including families. The number of those attending any given MT event can vary greatly, with some attracting as many as 200+ participants, and smaller events fewer than 20. Factors such as this necessitate that a common virtue of all Mission team members is flexibility!
Although each ministry opportunity can vary greatly in scope and numbers, the basic message delivered always remains that of faith, hope and love and the eternal, abundant life that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Team members use a variety of methods to present this truth, including small group discussions, drama, games, music and personal testimonies. Wherever possible, events include the celebration of the sacraments, helping to bring those attending to the to experience the love of God and to consider the call to begin or deepen their personal relationship with Christ.
Formal ministry events are not all the MT does, however. The Team also helps the CYT conduct Training seminars (such as the ‘Frontline’ programme) as well as serving at Diocesan and parish events. Whenever possible, team members visit parishes and schools around the diocese, evangelising youth on their ‘own turf’ through fellowship and fun.
As you may have already guessed, it takes special people to work on the Mission Team. The most important requirement for a MT member is a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and his Church. Other vital considerations include Active participation in the Sacramental life of the Church, obedience to the Teachings of the Catholic Faith, and a regular personal prayer life.
Equipping and supporting the Mission Team through over 11 months of ministry is a significant financial commitment. Principal funding is generously provided through the Diocese of Christchurch, but Team members are also asked to help defray costs by raising $3,000 in Sponsorship funds.
We hope this helps you better understand the ministry of the Christchurch Diocesan Mission Team. If the idea of giving a year of your life to serve Christ and the Church excites you – will you dare to give your, yes?