This year's conference took place 21 to 24 September on the Redcliffe Peninsula in Brisbane.
Returning to the Mueller Performing Arts Centre (MPAC), this year's event focused on encountering Jesus Christ and the Church, as well as on empowering and encouraging attendees to make a positive impact on the world by living the Christian life.
"Our theme for this year's conference was 'COME', and we had a number of scriptures around this theme that we used throughout our workshops and keynote presentations," says Nattasha Mierendorf of Ignite Youth, "We wanted to invite young people to come and learn more; to see the great plan that God has for them."
Kicking off the conference at the opening-night rally was Laura Otto, a highly respected member of the community with over ten years involvement in youth and children's ministry. "When we encounter Jesus, we can't help but be changed," she proclaimed in her uplifting sermon. She also urged attendees to abandon their fears and realise that – in God's eyes – they are enough.
Rallies like this one – which took place at both the beginning and the end of each day – brought together hundreds of Catholics in a joyous celebration of music, dance, and worship. "The rallies were a great way to breakdown those walls or preconceptions that people might have had coming into the conference," says Mierendorf. "For a lot of young people, it's very different from the church that they're used to. These rallies allowed us to introduce to them another style of gathering and worship."
Conference organisers divided this year's program into three streams that they tailored to provide thought-provoking and engaging activities and discussion for attendees of all ages.
The Ignite Central stream targeted adults from 18 to 80 and featured a number of inspiring keynotes and workshops from leading Catholic speakers. This year's speakers included Bishop Anthony Randazzo from the Archdiocese of Sydney, Chika Anyanwu from Life Teen USA, and Rebecca Crouch from NET Ministries Ireland.
Covering key themes, such as leadership, worship, mission, culture, and discipleship, conference topics included:
religious education in the 21st century
discovering your leadership edge
serving the poor with an open heart
modern worship for young people.
The Ignite Kids stream incorporated a number of fun experiences for primary-school-aged kids, which included music, games, creative arts, and faith-based activities. The Ignite High (for high school) stream provided older students with compelling sessions by NET Ministries and Ignite Youth – two of the leading Catholic youth ministry experts in Australia.
To close the conference on Sunday afternoon, Fr Dan Serratore of Missionaries of God's Love led a mass.
"On the last day, we had some fantastic feedback from the teacher of a group of students who had come all the way from Innisfail in North Queensland," says Mierendorf. "They apparently couldn't wait to go back to school to tell all their friends about the conference and their experiences with Christ. For us, that represents a massive success."
CCI was a proud supporter of the 2017 Ignite Conference. Find out more about the conference here.
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