The Truth of It

I’m a huge Will Smith fan. Over the past few months I was eagerly anticipating the release of his latest film, Concussion. Somehow I missed its release at the cinemas, and I’ve been kicking myself for it. I finally got to watch it last night, as my wife and I streamed it online (legally).

I found the story inspiring – and not only because it starred Will Smith! It was inspiring to me because it tells the story of a man who lives his life so fully that he impacts the world in a real way.
If you don’t know the film, it’s a re-telling of the real life story of Dr Bennet Omalu, a brilliant forensic pathologist.

While working in a Pennsylvania coroner’s office, he performs an autopsy on a former National Football League (NFL) player, Mike Webster, in whom he discovers a degenerative brain disease caused by numerous head traumas from playing football. Omalu publishes his findings and challenges the NFL to do more to protect its players.

Of course, a money making machine as big as the NFL doesn’t accept Omalu’s findings, which would diminish their product. The NFL ignores Omalu and tries to shut him down.

Here is the crisis of the story: Omalu is faced with the choice between telling the truth and facing further ridicule; or drop the whole thing and protect his reputation. It’s not easy choice – Omalu isn’t just challenging the NFL organisation, he’s challenging an American ideal and culture itself. It’s in the centre of this crisis that the movie depicts a moving conversation between Omalu and his wife. Omalu’s wife reminds him that he has a truth and urges him to tell it.
Tell your truth. Live your truth.
Because if you don’t – who will?

That might sound simple, or it might sound fluffy – let me break that down a bit more. What it means is that we all have truths in our lives: the truth of where we come from, our family upbringing, our significant experiences, our education. As Christians we have a particular religious truth of beliefs and lifestyle. As a married man, I can look at my wedding ring daily and be reminded of the vows I made with my wife – those are truth.

As we go about every day, we have a routine or a job or we go to school and study and we have relationships – all because it’s true that we need to earn money or learn things or interact with others. Because if these things weren’t true, human life would look drastically different.

I believe at the core of who we are there’s a truth of who we are. In fact, I think there’s several truths. There’s the basic truths, things we need to do to survive like eating, drinking, sleeping, working, etc. Our history and past, is true to each of us, both our individual history and our collective/communal/cultural history.

And then there are the truths that we just can’t let go of, the themes that run through our lives and point us to the future, be it a passion for justice or for education or for mission or for cooking food or for creative arts, etc. It could be anything, but it’s why we work in or do what we do – or why we hate what we do for work.

Why the emphasis on truth? I used to rely heavily on the word “passion”, but when you look at our consumer culture, anything can be a passion. And I mean, anything. The most currently downloaded phone app is one that transposes a constructed world on top of reality (sorry Pokemon Go fans). Passion doesn’t necessarily lead to anything concrete.

Applied to vocation, we can see then that so many things can get in the way of discerning our call. Our consumer society, with its multitude of products, offers constant distraction. I think we even get in our own way, obsessing over options. At one point in the movie, the biggest obstacle in the way of Omalu’s work is not the NFL, it’s himself, going back and forth about whether he should pursue his fight against the NFL’s officials or drop it and go home.

I’ve experienced this in my own life: after I left the seminary in 2010, I spent a good two-three years wondering and obsessing about whether I’d made the right choice. The reality is that in my obsessing I was stopping myself from actually making that choice to move on.

Knowing the truths of who you are and living them give a concrete direction forward for living your vocation. This is something I’ve seen in my own life recently, knowing the truths of who I am, about my marriage, about my work, about my values – these have helped me make concrete decisions about my life and my future.

In Dr Omalu’s case, the truth of his work was recognising the dignity of each person he autopsied, allowing their life to be respected in death. Even if he didn’t challenge the NFL about brain injuries, his life and work would still have tremendous meaning for himself, but also for his co-workers and for the families of his patients.

Know your truth and live it. Or, as St Catherine of Sienna put it, “be who God made you to be”. Take the time to ask yourself and know who you are and why you are, truthfully. This is the step of discernment that we can all come back to periodically throughout life.
Because it’s the step of discernment where it becomes more than introspective navel-gazing and vocation becomes real and lived. Know your truth, but also live it. That’s the story of Dr Omalu, it could be our story also.


The real Dr Omalu, portrayed by Will Smith in the movie Concussion


**This Blog originally appeared on Vocation Brisbane’s Blog page found here**



Adam grew up in the southern suburbs of Brisbane, graduating high school at Trinity College in Beenleigh. He has completed a Bachelor of Theology at Australian Catholic University as well as a Certificate IV in Leadership and Ministry. He is the Executive Officer at Vocation Brisbane and recently married his wife Jade


Can a Catholic evangelise?

Whenever I’m reading a book like this a chapter at a time, I have a tendency to prepare by reading the sub-headings of the chapter. I think it might be the years at uni or some kind of achievement-oriented drive where sub-headings allow me to measure my progress as I make my way through the chapter.

So when I flicked through Chapter 2 of Divine Renovation entitled “Rebuild my house” and the sub-headings were The Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, I’ve got to admit I felt like I was in for a history lesson on the papacy.

What I didn’t realise was that it was going to be a history lesson around evangelisation. This chapter opens up the development of language around evangelisation since the Second Vatican Council.

Very quickly it becomes evident that there is a consistent and developing language across these four popes. Below are just a few examples:


“Evangelisation will also always contain – as the foundation, centre, and at the same time, summit of its dynamism – a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.” Pope Paul VI, EN, no. 22


“No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” Pope John Paul II, RM, no.3


“Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep Him for themselves, they must proclaim him.” Pope John Paul II, NMI, no. 40


“Your greatest task in evangelisation is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfilment.” Pope Benedict XVI, address to the bishops of the Philippines


[The goal of evangelisation is] “the realisation of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of His Father and our Father.” Pope Benedict XVI, Lineamenta, no. 11


Fr James Mallon sums this journey up when he says “Evangelisation is essentially kerygmatic and leads to an encounter with the person of Jesus.” I have to admit I thought this language was more common in a protestant setting, but these days I’m starting to hear it everywhere.

It certainly permeates The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) and Fr James Mallon also points us to other church documents where this language was developed including Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio,  Novo Millenio Ineunte, the Lineamenta document and the Aparecida document.

What I love the most about this chapter is that it shows the beautiful complementarity that exists across these popes when they speak of evangelisation. It shows the way God used each of these popes to bring the Church to a renewed understanding of evangelisation, the mandate of all who have been baptised.


Contact page Teresa MCGrath

Teresa McGrath is the Youth Project
Consultant for the Archdiocese of Brisbane,
and heads up the Youth Evangelisation Office.

I’m going to get all fairy-tale on you for just a minute: my wedding day was the most amazing day of my life to date. I loved every minute of it. I still get happy when I look at the photos of our day blu-tacked to our bedroom wall (we’re not allowed to hang frames in our apartment; we’re renting).

Our wedding day felt like the culmination of all of the talking, dates, praying, seeking and journeying towards our vocation. My husband and I were 20 and 21. It didn’t feel like I was ‘too young’ to get married. We had incredible amounts of support from our family and friends. We were, and are, so blessed.

steph download

It isn’t all mountain climbing adventures, cute selfies and warm winter snuggles on the couch watching TV. Sorry to burst your bubble. Okay, sometimes it is like that. But not as often as you think.

My husband and I are both studying full time, I’m working two jobs and he works full-time. We’re busy. We’re also normal and need down time. We need to hang out with our friends (that aren’t each other). We argue about stupid things and important things. My marriage requires a lot from me when sometimes it doesn’t feel like I have anything to give.

Sometimes we’re too tired from uni and work to cook dinner, but we have to cook dinner, because we don’t live at home and mum can’t just whip something up for us (love ya mum). I haven’t lived at home since I finished high-school and man, I didn’t know how to appreciate a full-stocked fridge of food back then.

So how do we do it, being young and married? Jesus is the one who fuels me on this journey. His love flows straight through my veins and into the heart of another. It is Jesus who calls me to holiness through my marriage.

I’m not going to tell you that ‘marriage requires sacrifice’ (because it does, but I’m sure you’ve already heard that 100 times before). I want to tell you that it requires honesty. Honesty with yourself and honesty with God about where you’re at.

How are you doing? Are you stressed? What’s the deal with budgeting? Do you need more quality time than you’re receiving? You need to be honest with your spouse. Marriage isn’t a gooder for running and hiding. Maybe for a little while, but in the long run honesty will be your best friend. You need to create space for your spouse to be honest with you too.

Being young and married does allow us to be adventurers together. Like, how many weeks can we stretch out our trip to Europe before it affects our studies? And where the heck is that smell in the kitchen coming from?! (we mastered that one). Our weekly trips to the dog park to pat stranger’s dogs are a necessity for us to remember that married life isn’t all about serious work and strategic organisation.

I’m still growing up. I don’t know everything there is to know about life or marriage. Neither does my husband (although he does know a lot) and it can be so confusing for the both of us trying to figure it all out, at the same time. We need grace. We need ALL of the grace.

We need to approach the sacraments regularly; not just because ‘we should’ but because we NEED to. How can I offer forgiveness if I do not know of it myself? How can I offer love unconditionally to my husband if I’ve forgotten the ultimate act of unconditional love?

Jesus isn’t just my ultimate example; he is my ultimate teacher. I cannot take direction from myself, from society or from my friends alone. I need to take all things to and from Him. There is no other way that I can expect to be faithful in my vocation, if it is not with Jesus.

Let’s create a culture of young people so desperate to live out their vocation that they can’t put aside holiness any longer. Whether you get married or serve the Church with your whole heart through single life, priesthood or religious life – or if you’re still on your way to figuring it out – seek God with your whole heart. Do it now. He will not disappoint you.



Steph Ransom works with Ignite Youth in an area she is very passionate about young adult formation. She has over five years experience in youth ministry and is currently in Europe for World Youth Day.

This article originally appeared on Ignite Youth’s article page found here


For as long as I can remember I have been very good at hiding. This ability has assisted me in being able to put up walls around the most vulnerable parts of me, to pretend that everything in my life is fine and I am perfectly okay. The thing is, I wasn’t okay at all- my life had become completely dedicated to hiding who I really was and somewhere along the way I completely lost sight of who I actually am.


The worst part about it was that I wasn’t just hiding from the people around me, I was hiding from God too; I had wrapped myself from head to toe in a blanket of lies and slowly, but surely, I was suffocating and I couldn’t help, but wonder…how could God love me? How could I even be worthy of God’s love if I don’t even like the person I’ve become?

However, recently, I was given the opportunity to take a step forward in not only accepting who I am, but to become the person God made me to be, and “rise and shine” from the never ending sleep I had been in, at Venire Retreat 2016: Arise.


Arise! Shine; for your light has come and the glory of the lord rises upon you
Isaiah 60:1


Venire is quite possibly one of my favourite places in the world. It has always been there for me when I needed it the most, but on this particular week- retreat week- all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. I had spent 11 long, draining school weeks dragging myself to school and plastering a smile on my face, despite any anxiety or bad moods- basically, I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to listen to people who would make me think about myself or make me come face to face with God…

I didn’t want God to see how broken I was. But the light that shone from the incredible Venire community was powerful and with each minute that passed, I longed even more to be a part of it. Everyone was so kind and accepting and I was continually reminded of how much God loves me; of how God does not make dirt; and how I am enough.


“We were made from dust, but we were not made to be dust,” was a quote that really resonated with me throughout the retreat. I couldn’t stop saying it to myself over and over again and the more I thought about it a warmth continued to spread through my entire body- from my chest outward.

Every bone in my body was almost screaming at me to start fighting for my faith, I felt as though God was calling me to not just live, but to awaken from the sleep I was in, I felt God calling me to arise and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid to come out of hiding and fully give myself over to God. In praise and worship that night, I didn’t hide from Jesus, I stood before him and shined.


You are the salt of the earth”
Matthew 5:13
Stay Salty- Read, Listen, Pray, Serve, love, SHINE


Throughout retreat, not once did feel like an outsider, I didn’t feel awkward or weird- I felt a sense of belonging. I felt alive. I was able to have meaningful conversations with people my age and build lasting friendships. I could almost feel my heart multiplying in size and my love for God growing stronger.

Now I feel like I am a completely different person. I’m ready to stop hiding and not just let God’s light shine on me, but through me. I made a decision before coming home that I would never give up fighting for God, because he has never given up on me and I Know that I will continue to rise.

This blog originally appeared on Venire Youth’s website


Diahann (2)

Diahann Pasquill is in grade 10 at Benowa State High School. She was recently confirmed and accepted into the Catholic Church. She has been attending Venire for 2 years and has just come back from the Venire annual retreat.


As Teresa, Zach and I sat around in our cosy little office on Monday morning, bleary eyed, yawning and mostly ready for the week ahead…

Ok side note:

I was probably the only one bleary eyed and yawning. My wife and I have been experiencing the joys of sleepless nights as our 7 month old son Oscar, plays his favourite game.

In my mind he calls the game “who’s it gunna be”? As far is as can tell the “rules”, and I use that term loosely, are pretty simple. Oscar cries and waits to find out who’s going to “win” by coming to comfort him next? Meanwhile, mummy and daddy are in bed playing rock paper scissors to see who is going to lose by having to go and comfort him next. I think that particular night I lost more times than I won.

… Anyway back to the cosy little office. As we started to discuss what stood out to us from the first chapter of Divine Renovation, the concept of identity or lack thereof, in our church dominated most of our conversation. Here are a few of my own reflections based on this question of identity.

Who am I?

“Who am I?” It is a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another. Asking and answering this question is the key to growth and development.  When we actually seek to live out our identity the whole world becomes a better place.  Or as St Irenaeus puts it “The glory of God is man fully alive

Why does the Church exist?

As a Church we need to ask ourselves these same identity questions. Who are we? What is our purpose as a church? Why do we exist?

If we have never reflected on this question it almost doesn’t even make sense to us. The Church seems so big with so many parts doing so many different things, could we really reduce it down to just one purpose?


Fr James points out that Jesus gave us the great commission. His last words to his disciples before His ascension into heaven was “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

This means that all of our activities, all of our ministries, all of our outreach and social justice programs, everything we do as a Church needs to serve this end.  Our purpose and our identity is to make disciples of all nations. To make followers of Christ.


“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


Are we making disciples?

When we look around our parish or our faith community is this purpose obvious? Can we clearly see that the Church is working towards this goal? If we ask ourselves why we go to Mass? Is our answer “so I can make disciples”?  Unfortunately, it is not always obvious that making disciples is what we are about.

A disciple is someone who has a hunger to learn about, to understand and to follow Jesus. Many people believe in Jesus but mere belief seems to be where it ends for some of us.

The end game of making disciples is not so people believe in Jesus. It is to have a yearning for Him, a hunger to know and to love Him more, to seek Him the way we would seek air if we were underwater. Can we really say that we experience that level of hunger in our faith?

Who are we?

The identity of the Church is wrapped up in making disciples. But to make disciples we must first become disciples, acquiring this hunger ourselves and then finding new ways to present the eternal truths of Gospel of Jesus Christ that make sense in people’s lives today.


The identity of the Church is wrapped up in making disciples


I think about the impact that we as a Church could have on our world if we truly knew who we are and what our purpose is. If we could recapture that sense of identity and allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit to live out our identity to the fullest, we would see, like Divine Renovation’s author Fr James Mallon has, a renewal in our parishes and in our faith communities.


Jeremy Grear

Jeremy is the parish support officer for youth ministry in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He is married and has an 8 month old son. Jeremy is passionate about promoting the dignity of the family and the human person.

I found my calling when I was backpacking and teaching through China, Cambodia and Thailand.

I was eating breakfast in a small charity restaurant in Siem Reap in Cambodia, when a homeless man approached me. His clothes were torn; he had scars all over his body and he his arms had been amputated.

But what moved me most were his eyes. He was a man in need of so many things, none of which I could give him.I had only carried enough money to get myself breakfast, and I felt helpless.

I knew that day that Jesus had shown me my calling through this man’s eyes; to eradicate poverty and conflict, to uphold human rights and to fight for human dignity.


This experience has led me to study a Bachelor’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and International Relations.

This area, like many others, often discredits religion and faith and focuses only on facts and reason. Often I think the time I spend studying is selfish, and time away from praying or working for God’s ministry in Ignite Youth. I frequently questioned ‘how do I be Christ’s love, whilst studying a degree that is the complete opposite of my faith?’


Today’s modern society often portrays faith as a moral compass for ethics, to satisfy one’s emotional requirements. My degree and my faith seemed like two conflicting forces within my life. Often times I felt that the faith I wanted to live out and the classes I was learning, were the opposite. I was also told that I was not ‘fulfilling my potential’ by working for the Church.

This led me to ask ‘how can I be a Catholic and study international politics?’ I felt discouraged, like I had lost sight of God’s calling and had to give up my faith for my degree.

It wasn’t until I met role models who studied my degree, and now work for the Church helping to alleviate poverty and stand up for human rights, that I realised no matter what field I am in, my calling is to bring Christ’s love to the world. In both working for God’s kingdom and following his calling to study international politics, I am fulfilling God’s call in my life.

My degree has not made me question my faith. Instead of making me see the pessimistic flaws of the world, university has made me appreciate my faith, and the power Christ’s love has in the world.


“The place where God calls you is where your deep desire and the world’s deepest hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner).


God places us in these areas for a reason. And just like life, we may or may not know the reason; we can only discern and follow God. There is a great hunger in both areas of my life; a great hunger for young people to have a relationship with God and work for youth ministry, and there is also a great hunger for peace and eradication of poverty in the world.

This degree isn’t opposing my faith, but helping me see the world for what is and what it could be.


I don’t know where God will lead me – maybe to give my life for the Church and work in bringing young people to Christ, or maybe further down the track, working for peace in the world and to stop injustice. Only God knows. Either way, I will be Christ’s love in whatever I do.




Katelyn Swinsburg works as a youth leader, appeals and administration assistant at Ignite Youth and is also currently studying a Bachelor’s Degree with an extended major in Peace and Conflict Studies and International Relations at the University of Queensland. She loves dancing, choreographing and playing worship music in her local parishes. She is also engaged to Matthew Ross to be married in December this year.

The views expressed in the Catholic Collective blog do not necessarily represent the views of the Youth Evangelisation Office or the Archdiocese of Brisbane

The idea of a book club conjures up an image of 5 older, retired ladies sitting around in a lounge room covered in flowers from the wallpaper to the upholstery with cups of tea and blankets over their laps (very unfair considering the only actual exposure I’ve had to book clubs is watching The Jane Austen Book Club).

Jane Austen Book Club






However, I don’t know about you, but I am hopeless at finishing books – particularly when they are not novels.

I have a pile of 5 or 6 books sitting on my bedside table accumulating dust – and not in a shabby chic, perfectly imperfect kind of way either.

Exp v reality books large






So after spending a year recommending books I’ve only half-read to people, I decided it was time I did something about this. Due to my strong dislike of book clubs, I found a loophole that would allow me to avoid book clubs, yet still have some accountability in my reading, through some inspiration from an Andy Stanley leadership podcast  (which I thoroughly recommend, but that is a whole other blog in itself).

At the start of his leadership meetings, he works through a book with his leadership team and this was something the Youth Office could easily do at the start of each of our weekly meetings (after beginning with prayer of course!).

Luckily, I work with two people who are flexible and were willing to give this a shot. The result – we are all actually making our way through our first book together, “Divine Renovation” . It’s a miracle!

And do you know what? I’m loving it. Divine Renovation is by Fr James Mallon and is the new kid on the block in a long line of parish renewal books. I’m loving breaking open a chapter or a section at a time in a super unstructured way.

I’m enjoying being stretched in my knowledge of what is possible in parish life. Even the subtitle, “Bringing your parish from maintenance to mission”, is challenging and inspiring.

We’ve enjoyed our discussions so much around this book that we simply don’t want to keep this stuff to ourselves. We want to share it with the world (and you!).

So over the next little while, we will be doing a series of blogs sharing our reflections as we move through the chapters.

I’m hoping our non-book club experience can offer you something.

We hope that this might give you some encouragement in your journey as leaders in the Church and some little kernels of wisdom to then take back to your parish or faith community, just like it has done for us. So keep an eye out in the weeks to come. Happy reading!


Contact page Teresa MCGrath




Teresa McGrath is the Youth Project Consultant for the Archdiocese of Brisbane, and heads up the Youth Evangelisation Office.


My search for the ‘Perfect’ Youth Group

It is probably best to start off with what I mean by ‘perfect’ in this story.  A ‘perfect’ youth group here means one that is just right for me, and it may be for you too or another group may be the one for you.

Why Search?  

It’s difficult going through life on your own; you really need the support of other Catholics, especially in today’s world where so many people seem to be anti-God.  And it’s so uplifting to talk to people of your own age who happen to have the same beliefs as you!  If people are on the same page as you on important issues then it is easier to become friends with them, have loads of fun and start your journey of becoming a better Catholic.

My search for a “perfect” youth group began after I had graduated from high school…


The Beginning

My story starts off in a small community, where I attended a local parish without a youth group throughout my childhood and schooling.  There weren’t any young people my age there. Being the only Catholic in school was difficult enough and not being able to meet other Catholics my own age was kind of heart breaking.

As you can imagine or you have also experienced, life as a teen isn’t easy in these kinds of situations…


Conquering Trials and Tribulations

Through prayer, reading the Bible and Catholic articles,  going to mass and adoration, I began to understand that I had to go through these trials, and to feel alone, to feel the pain and suffering as Jesus wanted me to understand His life. Jesus too was rejected by his own people, the Jews, as He had different beliefs, and even those with the same beliefs denied Him.

What I’m trying to tell you is not to get discouraged like I did for years.

Taking the first step is always the hardest.  It was difficult leaving my “comfort zone” having been a rather shy/quite teen girl.  I think that’s why it took me years to leave behind my home sweet home in my search for my “perfect” youth group…


Go out into the World!

Once I left the coziness of my room, I discovered that there was an overwhelming amount of youth groups around.  There was bound to be one that was ‘perfect’ for me.  But which one was I to choose?

I attended a number of different youth groups at university and in parishes until I found those that suited my lifestyle at the time and where I was able to attend on a regular basis.


Just ‘Perfect’ for me

The first youth group I joined was the Our Lady of Victories Polish Youth Group, which as the name says, includes youth from Polish families.  I then discovered Frassati Australia, which is based at Mary Immaculate, Annerley where I attend a weekly mass on Monday nights at 7pm, then afterwards there is a talk on important Catholic issues.  Late last year, an all ladies Catholic group by the name of ‘Flores Teresianes (Flowers of Therese)’ was formed based at Mary Immaculate, Annerley, which I now attend.  This year I also began to attend the Young Carmelite Group based at the Carmelite Monastery in Ormiston which meets once every two months.

I was only praying for God to help me find one ‘perfect’ youth group and was sent four that suited me just right.


Hint, Hint!

Some of these youth groups I discovered by attending the annual Youth and Vocations Expo at the Cathedral of St Stephens. The Youth and Vocations Expo will be held at St Stephen’s Cathedral on Sunday 7 August 2016 from 11am to 3:30pm.



Joanna headshot





Joanna Czajkowska is a Brisbane born Polish girl and folkloric dancer who loves travelling, running and reading Saint Faustyna’s Dzienniczek “Diary” in Polish.

The views expressed in the Catholic Collective blog do not necessarily represent the views of the Youth Evangelisation Office or the Archdiocese of Brisbane