It is always a beautiful experience to be able to meet new people and make new connection; even more so when the new people are like-minded, energetic and full of a very familiar joyous and youthful spirit.

It turns out that as young Salesians, we have a lot in common with young Marists! This was a long-held theory that was confirmed during a gathering of both Salesian and Marist youth last Sunday night. We were able to share with each other what we love about our respective charisms, learn about each other’s origins, work and contemporary youth ministry.

About 10 young Marists and 10 Young Salesians came together for the 5pm mass in Clifton Hill, hosted by the amazing parish community of St John the Baptist, led by Jennifer Jacobs-Vandegeer. Fr Bernie Graham celebrated the mass and Br Jeff Miller led us in song on what was a very cold, very joy-filled evening.

We then gathered after mass in the Aikenhead wing (the parish’s community centre) where young Marist Lachie Scott, shared parts of his journey so far and explained why being a young Marist is such an important part of his identity. Teaghan Dolan followed afterwards, detailing her journey as a young Salesian and what that means for her in the greater picture of her life.

Lachy (pictured third from right) shares with the group as they listen attentively.

After the sharing, Sara Petruzzella and Lachie of the Marist Youth team led us in some of their favourite games and activities, so we could further get to know each other and enjoy the new connection we were making. As it turned out, we were already quite familiar with a lot of the games they ran – either we knew the game by a different name, or a slight variant. A funny coincidence, or perhaps just what makes sense when you bring together two groups whose youth ministry approach involves a heavy bias in favour of playing games and having fun!

We ended our gathering and conversations over a shared meal, feasting on pizza, bánh mì and rice paper rolls. Marist Br Greg McDonald thanked the Salesian group for hosting the gathering and promised to return the favour in a couple of months’ time, by hosting a Taizé prayer night. We hope this will be the second instalment of a very strong and very fruitful connection going forward!

Thank you to all the young Marists and Salesians who came along and shared such a wonderful evening. A special thanks to Sara, Lachie and Teaghan who animated the evening with their sharing and games and to Lauren Hichaaba who spent a lot of time on the night organizing the food!

No youth gathering is complete without a meal - and what a meal this was, catering for all dietry requirements!