Report from the Australian Bishops

The Report of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference identifies NET Ministries as one of three activities that young people consider the most interesting and relevant to share with the universal Church. It states:

NET Ministries (Archdiocese of Brisbane)

Description: NET Ministries (National Evangelisation
Teams) is a Catholic peer-to-peer youth ministry
that puts into action the Church’s mission to evangelise
and disciple young people. NET does this by proclaiming
the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a personal witness of
faith, inviting young people to live for Christ, forming
young people in Christian character through the
study and practice of the faith, and equipping young
adults with the ministry skills needed for evangelising
and discipling young people. Young people (18-30)
volunteer with NET Ministries for a commitment of
10 months. They receive six weeks of initial training
to prepare them for ministry at the beginning of the
year, covering topics such as Christology, missiology,
evangelisation, discipleship, team building, conflict
resolution, community living, leadership, retreat
facilitation, communication and much more.

These young people are then sent in teams of varying
sizes to a local area for the year, except for the National
Team which travels across Australia to Catholic schools
and parishes. Each team has a unique ministry and
can be placed either in a parish, school, university or
diocesan context. The team lives in community for the
year and this community living is an essential aspect of
the formational experience. Once in their local areas,
these young people (usually called ‘Netters’) receive
a follow-up to the initial training through weekly
supervision calls, a mid-year retreat, mid-year training
and 3-4 supervisor visits.

Analysis: NET was founded in response to the invitation
of a ‘new evangelisation’ by Popes Paul VI and John Paul
II, “…one that is new in its ardour, new in its methods,
and new in its expression” (Bl. John Paul II, Address to
the Latin American Bishops). Although NET was around
well before the recent language of Pope Francis (it was
founded in the USA in 1981 and in Australia in 1988) it is
grounded in the framework of missionary discipleship
that he describes. NET recognises the value of peer-topeer
ministry and personal sharing and accompaniment
as important methods of ministry and evangelisation,
particularly with young people who must receive special
consideration in the way that faith is communicated to
them. Our experience shows that the bottom line is
often that young people can ‘tune out’ their parents,
teachers and other authority figures but will respond
to an authentic witness of faith from their peers.
Theological reflection and praxis-based learning are
important aspects of the formation of Netters.

The primary purpose of NET is to form these Netters
into modern day evangelists and future leaders for the
Church so NET Team members don’t just learn through
lectures or theory, but also by doing what they are
taught and then reflecting on the outcomes as they do
their ministry day by day. Evaluation: The Archdiocese
of Brisbane has perhaps experienced most powerfully
the fruits of NET Ministries in the number of NET
Alumni who have now taken on ministry roles within
the Archdiocese, either directly as youth ministers/
campus ministers, as teachers in Catholic schools as
well as several alumni who are currently in formation
at the seminary. The immersive experience of NET
Ministries is what is unique to this pastoral activity of
accompaniment and vocational discernment. Young
people are transformed as they are supported and
accompanied through an experience of mission and
community that often stretches them beyond their
comfort zone. This cultivates a deeper awareness of
God at work in their lives and creates a space where
they can ask the question of where God might be calling
them in the future.

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