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Friday, 08 June 2018 17:38

Sr Veronica's grace-filled year journeying with vulnerable young people

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0618SrVeronicaSariSSpS 150By Sr Veronica Sari SSpS

The Year of Youth theme suggests the need to dialogue about the importance and life-giving presence of young people in the church and society.

I paused and reflected on this theme and asked myself – is there any time I have taken to listen to young people’s stories? Have I allowed them to tell their stories and dialogue with them about what they feel? Have I walked with them to achieve what they are longing for in this fast moving world?

Today, I feel privileged and blessed to share my journey with the young people whom I am now working in Melbourne with through a non-government organisation called Whitelion.

Whitelion provides services including education, counselling, housing, mentoring and employment.

I first started reaching out to young people aged between 12 and 25 (although I have encountered some people over 25 years old. These young people are very disadvantaged. They have issues with drugs and alcohol, homelessness and theft, only to name a few.

My main role is to reach out to these young people with drug and alcohol issues and homelessness. It has been a challenging role where you do not know what’s going to happen when the young person is taking heaps of drugs or may have been through rough days of sleeping on the streets and having not eaten a proper meal.

The magic gesture I discovered after a year and a half of journeying with these vulnerable young people is from what some of them told me: “Your smile and presence makes us feel welcomed and comfortable to share our most vulnerable stories and experiences and you listen with a non-judgmental attitude”.

Working with young people who have endured such traumatic experiences, has taught me so many things in life which I took for granted. Walking their shoes has helped me understand them – which in turn creates a safe space for them to dialogue.

Despite the stories or situations they are going through, I always receive positive feedback from them!

The happiest moments are when a young person sees me at the usual meeting place where we first met (skate parks or under a bridge), to tell me they got their first job, or a roof over their head, or they are going back to school.

I have had a grace-filled year of journeying with vulnerable young people in Melbourne. Through my interactions with them, I have learned that they most important thing they all need is a companion with a listening heart. They have taught me to be vulnerable before God and others in order to understand them with my heart and with my mind.

This article was first published in Whispers of the Spirit, winter edition.

Find out more about the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters.