Catalysts for change

Ten students were guest editors for the most recent edition of Australian Catholics magazine. They are the storytellers of the future.

 JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH 

By Laura Kings, assistant editor education and youth, of ‘Australian Catholics’ magazine

Young people are calling for change and not just on climate issues. An empathetic generation is emerging whose members value the welfare of others as well as future of the planet. You can hear their voices in the latest edition of Australian Catholics magazine.

Jesuit Communications once again lived its mission, giving voice to Catholic youth in the Spring 2023 edition of Australian Catholics. Ten guest editors from Years 10 and 11 at Catholic schools from across Australia took the reins to write about a “climate for change”.

As the recently appointed assistant editor – education and youth, it’s my second year presenting the program alongside editor Michele Frankeni. Having a career that spans both the media and education industries, I feel privileged to work with such motivated and respectful young people. It gives me great faith in the leaders of tomorrow and I am grateful to have been a part of their journey as they become the storytellers of the future.

The guest editors were the most recent cohort of the Jesuit Communications’ annual internship program. Now in its thirteenth year, the internship offers secondary school students the chance to produce an edition of the largest-circulation Catholic print publication in the country.

During this week-long immersive experience, students took a crash course in good news journalism and attended sessions with industry speakers before planning and writing most of the Spring edition.

The participants connected with journalists and editors who shared insights about navigating the early stages of a career in the media.

The cover of the Australian Catholics Spring 2023 edition.

Michele Frankeni praised the contributions by this year’s applicants: “What I and others were most impressed by was the consistent connection between social justice and Catholic social teaching. Our interns tend to write about social justice issues, or about Jesus and the Bible, often not seeing the connection between.”

The selection of articles in the edition encompassed topics as varied as fast fashion, the future of the Church, the role of women in the Church, bushfires, youth activism and homelessness.

Guest editor Niamh Kelleher said she entered the programme to find out more about a career in the media, while Jeremiah Abrokwah said this was one of very few internships open to such young applicants. “I was really grateful to be able to do it, even though I’m in regional Australia,” he said.

Fellow guest editor Sienna Talbot said the experience helped her understand the industry better.

Not all participants, though, are necessarily heading into the media. Thalia Kurniawan said she is curious about further study in theology.

Guest editor Erin Drewsen enjoyed the experience of interviewing Victorian Catholic Social Services director Josh Lourensz, particularly in relation to gaining an insight into how he approached his social justice work.

Participants praised the experience of conducting live interviews with the guest speakers, Josh, Emilie Ng (Australian Catholic University), Najma Sambul (The Age) and Juliette Hughes (Eureka Street).

As I worked with the students, I was impressed by the topics they chose to cover, as well as their willingness to take on feedback. I hope they will continue to be members of our young writers’ community into the future.

The Spring edition was officially launched on 29 August by Jesuit Provincial Fr Quyen Vu SJ and Communications Delegate Fr Richard Leonard SJ in an online event that allowed the participants, teachers and families to see the completed magazine for the first time.

Fr Richard highlighted the long tradition of Jesuit media involvement and innovative use of emerging technologies almost stretching back to the invention of the printing press.

Jesuit Communications with the ten guest editors from Years 10 and 11 at Catholic schools from across Australia.

Fr Quyen congratulated the guest editors on their efforts and shared this prayer.

Dear Lord, 

Through your wisdom and grace, we gather before you today with our internship brimming with hope and dreams that touch the skies. 

We seek your blessings and guidance for our young writers as they embark on a journey to amplify the voices of the young generation in the realm of communication. 

You have gifted them with the power of words, the art of expression, and the means to connect across distances. As they step into the path of young writers, bestow upon them potential that lies within them, waiting to be nurtured and shared with the world. 

Grant them the strength to break down barriers and to shatter the walls that separate humanity. As they delve into the world of stories, news and ideas, may their words be a beacon of truth, understanding, and empathy. 

May their messages carry the seeds of positive change, planting the gardens of wisdom and unity in the hearts of those who encounter them. 

May their journey as young editors and writers be a testament to your grace and the potential you have instilled within them. 

May their words be a source of inspiration, unity and transformation for all those who encounter them. 

We humbly ask your blessings on and guidance of all our young writers today. 

We make our prayers through Christ our Lord. 

Amen.

As I reflect upon Fr Quyen’s words, I have no doubt that our latest group of interns will indeed tell stories that are beacons of truth, understanding, and empathy.

Find out more about Australian Catholics Magazine.

Find out more about the Australian Catholics media internship programme.

Feature photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash.

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