Ignite Youth Conference in Brisbane

Challenge 2000 sent 10 staff and Gap students to Brisbane to attend the Ignite Youth Conference.

Here’s a couple of the Gap students thoughts on the Conference:

“I got a lot out of the Gap trip to Brisbane for the Ignite Youth Conference.  I experienced and learnt many new things that will definitely benefit me personally and all the Gap students and Challenge staff in the future.  The knowledge and input will help us in our youth and social work.  Overall, I had a really awesome experience at the Conference and got the chance to listen to many great speakers.

One talk that stood out the most for me was a male only session about ‘being a man’.  This talk was mainly centred around being a real man and about breaking the stereotype of a tough man.  The speaker and participants talked about how it’s good to be a bit soft and emotional even though others may feel like your being a little baby.  This was quite significant to me because it showed me that it’s alright to be soft and caring and that you don’t need to do whatever makes everyone else happy.

At the Conference we were able to experience a lot of different things.  For example, the type of music that they played in the rally’s and liturgies was very upbeat and modern.  I found it quite enjoyable and inspirational.  It can maybe be something that we can adopt over here in Wellington, New Zealand.  We were also able to meet quite a large number of new people who have now become friends.

This trip was amazing! I’m so grateful that I  was given the chance to go and I would definitely recommend it to other people.  I know it was not a waste of time, money and effort.  The trip has made a real difference to me.”

Jared Tofaeono


“Arriving in Australia I felt overwhelmingly ungrounded.  It was like I was on another planet let alone in another country! In the second workshop I went to at the Ignite Conference, Daniel Ang was presenting Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis.  “You’re not here for yourself”, he said, “You’re here for everyone else who isn’t here at this Conference.” This hit me like a punch to the gut.  I finally ‘got’ that I wasn’t there by luck or chance, I was there with a purpose.  From then on I prayed throughout the Conference that God would open my eyes and ears, to soften my heart so that I could feel God knocking on the door and to have the strength to answer it.

Later that day we filed into the big auditorium for Mass.  On my seat was a small card with printed words “I want a church that is poor, for the poor…. Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 198”.  I tucked it inside my notebook for safekeeping.  I continued the next few days living and breathing the Ignite Conference, learning, enjoying, connecting and being inspired.  It was a valuable experience.

On our last afternoon in Australia, we went into Brisbane city to look around before our flight home.  As I walked down the street, I came across a young man holding a cardboard sign – “Homeless Kiwi”.  We introduced ourselves to each other and made small talk about NZ.  I plucked up the courage to ask him how he came to be where he was now.  What he told me was a mixture of bad choices and stuff out of his control.  He said “It’s my own fault I’m living like this, I’m not a good human being and I’m addicted, I know that. But I’ve recently become a Catholic.  I’ve been baptised too.  God has got me out of some dangerous situations.  I know God has a plan and a purpose for me, and I have complete trust in that.  Maybe it is to be someone who looks out for my brothers and sisters on the Streets.” This broke my heart and inspired me in a million ways.  I didn’t know what I could do to help this young man in that moment.  But I do know that praying is extremely powerful, so we said a Hail Mary together.

I want a church that is poor, for the poor.  This young man is the church.  No more or less that the hundreds of young Catholics at the Ignite Conference.”

Sarah Atkinson