Passing on the faith in a new land

Sr Jasmine Lawrence CP (left) and Joshy Kizhakemyalil (far right) with Syro-Malabar community members (The Southern Cross)

One of the biggest fears of migrants coming to a country like Australia is that their children’s faith will be lost. But catechism classes and retreats are helping Adelaide migrants keep the faith. Source: The Southern Cross.

For the 500 plus families from Kerala, India, who have settled in Adelaide in recent years, the challenge of continuing to live a truly Christian life is being embraced and seen as a way of spreading the Gospel message to young people outside their own community.

Joshy Kizhakemyalil leads a weekly parish catechism class. His students recently joined more than 200 Syro-Malabar youth at a weekend retreat.

Like many of the Syro-Malabar families now living in Adelaide, Mr Kizhakemyalil migrated to Australia in response to a recruitment drive for workers in the health sector after initially moving to the United Kingdom.

He said the retreat helped the children to learn how to live their faith in an Australian context. But it was also hoped the children would “spread the Gospel out to the Australian community” through the way they live their lives.

“Maybe that is why we were brought here,” he said. “It’s not easy to change an adult but through these children we can change the world.”

Led by Catholic lay evangelist Br Reji Kottaram and Christ Culture, along with Br Simon and the Alliance of the Holy Family team, the retreat was organised by local Church leaders, Fr Francis Pullukattu and Fr Ajith Cheriakkara.

Sr Jasmine Lawrence CP, who assists the community, said the reaction of the young people was “unbelievable”.

“They all said it was the best retreat they had ever been to.”

“It’s not just about learning being Catholic but about living your faith, what does it really mean being Catholic, and not just talking about it but being Christ.

“Young people talked about the challenges facing them as Christians living here now in Australia. They talked about the choices they want to make. Praise God for their courage, openness and desire to walk with Christ.”

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Passing on the faith in a new land (The Southern Cross

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