‘You are a miracle’: Sisters bring life-affirming message to Tassie youth

By Catherine Sheehan

‘Incredible’ and ‘beautiful’ are just some of the words young people have used to describe their experience of the recent Life to the Full conference held in Ulverstone, northern Tasmania.

Four Sisters of Life from the US were keynote speakers at the event held from 26 to 28 April at Camp Clayton, overlooking the spectacular northern coastline.

The conference, organised by the Archdiocese’s Office of Youth Evangelisation, was attended by 37 teenagers from around Tasmania who listened to the Sisters speak about their mission to uphold the dignity and worth of every human life.

Sr Marie Veritas, Sr Rose Patrick, Sr Mary Grace, and Sr Miriam Bethel, captivated their young audience as they spoke to them about God’s love for each and every person, and how each person had been created for a special purpose.

They told the young people about their ministry in the US and Canada serving women vulnerable to abortion, or suffering after an abortion, and how they seek to bring Christ’s love and mercy to them.

L-R: Sr Mary Grace, Sr Marie Veritas, Sr Miriam Bethel, and Sr Rose Patrick. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi

“Each of us is a miracle,” Sr Miriam Bethel SV told them. “You are a miracle… God poured himself out completely out of love for you.”

Speaking on the topic of ‘Mercy and forgiveness’, Sr Marie Veritas SV told the young people that Jesus was the only person who could ultimately save them and that they were not defined by their sins.

“You’re not your mistakes. You’re not your sins,” she said.

“God knows you… He sees you.

“Love alone defines the human person.”

Throughout the weekend the young people participated in praise and worship rallies led by the Kingston and Ranelagh youth band. There were times of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration, as well as sharing in small groups, workshops, fun outdoor activities, interactive skits performed by the Youth Mission Team, and a rosary walk along the beach.

Archbishop Julian attended the conference and celebrated Mass on both Saturday and Sunday. Fr Warren Edwards, Huon Valley Parish Priest, was also in attendance and presented one of the workshops.

Youth from around Tasmania came together for the Life to the Full conference in Ulverstone. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi

Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation, Sam Clear, said the joy and conviction of the Sisters had impressed the young people.

“Their daily ministry is with women in crisis situations, so their daily stories of hope and providence were amazingly powerful,” he said. “Youth want to be inspired – I think we all do.”

Year 8 student at St Aloysius’ College, Laura MacFarlane, said, “The Sisters of Life were amazing and very inspiring.”

“I learnt that Jesus will always be with you and love and cherish you,” she added.

Maggie Robinson, a Year 11 student at St Mary’s College, said,

“Sister Veritas made a huge impact on me with what she said about God having a unique and beautiful plan for each of our lives, and how we are loved and cherished as his children no matter what, even if we stray from the path.”

The conference included times of prayer and Adoration. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi

Lily Peters, a Year 9 student who is homeschooled, said she found the Sisters “amazing to be with”.

“If there was one thing I learnt from this conference it’s this: God loves you, God loves me and he created each one of us with a purpose, God has a plan for your life, and, if you let him, he will show you what it is.

Year 10 student at St Aloysius, Connor Brough, said he had learnt that “No matter the circumstance, God always has a plan to help you”.

For others it was the opportunity to meet other young people and deepen their faith together that had the most impact.

Ben Harrison, a Year 11 student at Guilford Young College, said the highlight of the weekend was “making new friends”.

The Sisters led the young people in a rosary walk along the beach. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi

“Overall it was great fun meeting new people, Fathers, Sisters and people I have known before. I loved everything about it and how nice everyone was.”

Sam said he had already received positive feedback from the conference, with a number of parents reporting that their child had returned home exuding joy.

One parent told him: “I don’t know who this young woman is who has returned home, but I like her and want to keep her!”

Despite the enormous amount of work, involving 23 volunteers, that went into organising the conference, Sam said he hoped the event would take place again.

“I hope and I pray that there is a Life to the Full Conference 2025,” he said.

“Overall, the Life to the Full conference was incredible,” Lily Peters said. “It was such a blessing to have the Sisters of Life come down from America for it. Everyone there was very welcoming and kind.

“Getting together to praise God with teens from all around Tasmania was very special and something I cherish greatly. It was heaps of fun and it definitely helped me grow in my faith!”

The Life to the Full conference was attended by 37 teenagers from around Tasmania. Photo: Jazz Chalouhi
Tags: Evangelisation and Catechesis, Front Page News, Life Family Marriage, Northern Deanery, Southern Deanery, Youth Evangelisation