On the evening of the 18th of November, the Young Christian Students (YCS) had their annual Acknowledgement Ceremony at St Luke’s Catholic College at Marsden Park. 

The Acknowledgement Ceremony has been done annually for 2 years now, and the purpose of the ceremony is to acknowledge the hard work and dedication put in by the students. This year’s Acknowledgement Ceremony was student-led from the 3 hosts leading the ceremony to the speakers and presenters. It was inspirational to see the students take charge and lead their ceremony and embody what the movement stands for, this was seen through their presentations of what each school was exploring and just how the students presented themselves, as changemakers. 

The ceremony involved students from St Andrews College, Marayong, St Columba’s Catholic College, Springwood, and St Luke’s Catholic College, Marsden Park. The three YCS groups had been working tremendously throughout the year taking on and exploring different social justice issues that collectively were chosen from each school. The YCS groups were recognised for their efforts by everyone present and by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta as he blessed their YCS badges for the next leaders and handed out certificates of participation. 

“YCS isn’t just about educating others but educating ourselves too. It has formed an integral sense of passion for justice and has encouraged me to become a person of active social change within our own world.”  These were the words that were spoken by a YCS graduate from St Andrew’s College, a testament to how the YCS had shaped her formative years. Katelyn Calima was invited to share her journey and testimony at the ceremony as a way for her to pass on wisdom and her experience to the other schools and to her fellow peers who are continuing on their educational journey. 

The three YCS groups were able to share with everyone what each school has worked on in the past year. 

From St Andrew’s College, the social justice issues explored were Mental health and consent. They tackled these issues through awareness campaigns through social media platforms and face-to-face interactions on school grounds. The representatives also spoke about future plans for their YCS groups and stated that their group has decided to continue exploring issues around mental health with a focus on individualism. 

As for St Columba’s and St Luke’s Catholic College, both have been exploring the topic of multiculturalism from the perspective of their communities’ realities. St Columba’s has been focusing on expanding their selection of multicultural books for their school library, and for the YCS group to pique the interest of their fellow peers to read more books either about different cultural stories, stories written by Indigenous authors or books written by People of Colour. As for the YCS in St Luke’s they have been organising a Multicultural Day Celebration at their school and in their local community. 

To close the ceremony, the student hosts interacted with the students in the audience to ask for their reasons or opinions about the YCS. After hearing some candid answers, the audience were shown a video with YCS leaders and their testimonies about the YCS. Many of the students shared the same sentiment of YCS being a safe platform where young students can come together in tackling social issues and having the opportunity as young students to make a difference in their worlds and communities. 

The ceremony was a testament to the hard work that the students had put in throughout the year. To see the students interact with one another from different schools, making connections, and acknowledging each other for their work and efforts was inspirational to see.