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Nehme Khattar, Province of Australia



Interview with the members of the Marist Youth Ministry (MYM) Commission

01/08/2013: General House

Marist Youth Ministry can count on an International Commission responsible for indicating to the whole Institute directives capable of guiding the work of the local animators. Among the goals already achieved by this Commission is the document « Evangelisers in the midst of youth » delivered to the Marist Institute in 2011.
The Commission's last meeting was held in May in the General House. We asked its members some questions about its work and about Marist Youth Ministry (MYM).

Today we present an interview with Nehme Khattar, a lay from Australia member of the MYM Commission. In January 2013 he was appointed the National Coordinator for Marist Youth Ministry in the Province of Australia. Nehme was born in Lebanon and completed primary school at Frere Mariste School in Jbeil (Mount-Lebanon). After migrating to Australia in 1992, he completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics and Marketing at the University of Sydney and after he undertook further study and completed a Masters of Teaching (Secondary school) and now he is in the process of completing a Bachelor of Theology at the Catholic Institute of Sydney. 

1. Who are the young people we are ministering to? What are their characteristics? What do they bring to the encounter we offer them in MYM? And what do they want from the encounter?

At a recent workshop of the MYM Council in Australia both Youth Ministry leaders and Marist bothers reflected on these questions. Young people in Australia and perhaps around the world are:

* Full of life and active and creative;
* Generous and giving;
* Experience rich;
* Vulnerable;
* Searching for meaning and place in the world;
* Searching for the truth;
* Spiritual but not necessarily religious;
* Value oriented and passionate about justice and action;
* Looking for community and connection;
* Highly mobile for the sake of service and mission;
* Technology rich;
* Full of hope.

2. How is organized the Marist Youth Ministry in Australia?

Marist Youth Ministry in Australia has a core mission ‘to make Jesus known and loved’. We see MYM as a space to engage youth and young adults, inviting them to an authentic encounter with Christ. Accompanied on their personal and shared journey of life and faith, young people discover the Marian face of the Church. This empowers them, as committed Marists, to be agents of change in the world.

Since the recent creation of the new Province of Australia, Marist Youth Ministry has been launched at the beginning of 2013, as a new nationally based structure. It provides a pathway to operate at two levels: regionally and nationally. We have established MYM regional teams in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney with Coordinators and Regional Assistants to lead youth Ministry. This indeed is an unprecedented quantity of human resources invested in Youth ministry by the Province.

An MYM Council has been formed, chaired by Br Darren Burge. This is symbolic of the Province's desire for an integrated approach to our Youth Ministry across Australia, whereby school-based Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry will operate in conjunction with one another. This is essentially has been encapsulated by the adopted title Marist Youth Ministry.  

The Council is made up of several members including; the Remar Coordinator - Nicki Pitt, the Melbourne Regional coordinator - Mario Frazzetto , the Brisbane Regional coordinator – Christian Nobleza, the Sydney and National Coordinator – Nehme Khattar, Br Pat O’Connell, Courtney Redden (Young Marists – Adelaide) and Declan Donohue (Religious Education Coordinator).

Our long held belief that Youth Ministry should facilitate and support the vocational dimension of a young person's life is also reflected by the presence of the Director of Marist Vocations Ministry on the Council - Br Greg McDonald.

The new structure of MYM will endeavour to work in relationship with other ministry groups within the Province to grow committed Marists. This is precisely why MYM is a ministry arm of the province under the leadership of the Executive Director for Ministries – Br Michael Green.

3. How people received the document “Evangelizers in the midst of youth”, mainly the Marist Leaders?

The aspirations, intuitions and suggestions of the international document on MYM ‘Evangelizers in the Midst of Youth’ are also reflected in the new structure and precisely in the newly devised strategic plan for the next three years.  The adoption of the Marist Youth Ministry international logo symbolizes our connection with the broader Marist world.

The recently devised plan strategic plan titled ‘Seeing new visions, dreaming new dreams’, provides a vision for ministry with young men and women aged 15–25 in Australia over the next three years. The plan provides a framework for current and future youth ministry and has a clear thematic approach immersed in the Marist way of being church. It is grounded in the underlying ‘Marist Principles’ and on the premise that MYM requires ‘organization, structure and systemization’. The plan has visionary aspects and also has a practical focus on three major areas/goals that come to life through seven key priority areas.

Our goals are: Spirituality, Community and Mission. As mentioned, we have also identified seven key priority areas for MYM and they include: Community, Prayer and Worship, Leadership and Formation, Social Action, School based ministry (Incl. Remar), Events and MYM Team structure.

Essentially, ‘Seeing new visions, dreaming new dreams’, hopes to encourage all those leading MYM to venture out ‘into the deep’ (Lk 5:4) with confidence and creative fidelity, remembering that ‘unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (Ps 127:1).

4. In your opinion, what are the challenges and proposals to the Youth Ministry?

As we work to “build the Lord’s home”, a home for the young people we will continue to face challenges. The first challenge is to be faithful to the efforts of Brothers and Lay people who have laid the foundations and are continually supporting and encouraging Marist Youth Ministry in Australia. Secondly, we must work tirelessly in seeking to collaborate with the wider Marist world, sharing ideas on our common journey. Thirdly, our efforts to build a coordinated ministry that encompasses school and post-school ministry through the implementation of the strategic plan will provide us with challenges that we need to overcome together as an MYM team.

In spite of this, as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, we are reminded and strengthened by the famous words of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: ‘Gaudium et Spes’. Joy and Hope. Indeed it is with ‘Joy and Hope’ and in attentiveness to the whispering of Holy Spirit that we walk confidently as MYM in the footsteps of Marcellin.

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