The awards celebrate the gifts of 54 young people in our Church and schools, with recipients chosen based on their commitment to their Catholic faith, personal characteristics of merit, success in their chosen learning pathway, contribution to their fellow students and wider community, and their optimism and hope for the future. Here we highlight the achievements of two recipients, with a full list of award recipients below.
Now in the home stretch of Year 12, Laura Turley (pictured) from Tenison Woods College is getting excited about attending her third Australian Catholic Youth Festival – this time in Sydney.
For the Mount Gambier student, who was recognised in the Archbishop’s Awards, her participation in the festivals has played an important part in strengthening her Catholic faith.
“My biggest learning experience from attending ACYFs is that there are thousands of other people who openly share the same faith and beliefs as myself. Living in a regional town it can be difficult to find similar-minded people who express their faith freely, so it was comforting to be able to open up to others without fear of judgement,” Laura said.
“I am really excited to be going to Sydney… this one will be extra special because I get to share the experience with my younger sister, Emily, who is going to her first ACYF.
“It will also be a wonderful way to close out Year 12, to reflect and thank God for everything I have experienced as a student at Tenison Woods College.”
As the college’s faith leader, Laura assists with the preparation of and reads at school Mass, parish Mass, youth Mass and Chapel. She attends leadership functions, acts as a support for her peers and is chair of the senior school Social Justice Council. In this role Laura helps to formulate ideas for fundraising and increasing awareness of various local and national charities, such as Caritas and St Vincent de Paul.
This year Laura participated in the Vinnies’ Winter Sleepout, has volunteered at Meals on Wheels with her nan, and also worked with younger students through a Learning Assistance Program initiative at the school and in the Mount Gambier Catholic Parish.
In 2015 she was part of a school group that travelled to Timor Leste, to assist school communities there.
“We also helped with and witnessed Communion as it was given to the elderly in their homes, helped a local nurse in one of the kindergartens and taught English to children and adolescents.
“It was a wonderful experience that I gained so much from and intend to go back again sometime in the near future.”
Nicholas Lopresti feels fortunate he has been able to combine his Catholic faith and his love of music by playing at various religious events at his school over the years.
The St Michael’s College Year 12 student is a keen musician, with the trumpet being his primary instrument, although he has learnt to play the French horn in recent times.
“I play at school Masses, feast days, particularly those attributed with St John Baptist de La Salle, patron saint of teachers and a key focus of a Lasallian college like St Michael’s,” Nicholas said.
“As a way of giving back to the community, I also play the Last Post on Anzac Day at the Seaton RSL, St Michael’s secondary campus and St Francis, Lockleys – my first primary school.”
A member of the Seaton parish, Nicholas sometimes assists in the offertory procession at Mater Christi Church during the Italian Mass, but most of the roles he fills are at the college Masses where he reads and has been trained as a Eucharistic Minister.
Raising awareness about some of the injustices in the world has been a big part of his life, especially since joining St Michael’s social justice group in Year 9.
“One of my greatest passions is helping other people and striving for equality,” he said.
“I have heard from many eye-opening guest speakers who have inspired multiple school fundraisers such as World Vision’s 40 Hour Famine and the Red Cross Blood Drive.”
As a leader of the social justice group, Nicholas has welcomed being able to pass on his knowledge to other students, particularly relating to the plight of refugees.
“Throughout my time as a youth ambassador for the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) there was great emphasis on defying refugee stereotypes and praying for their safety and equal rights. Personally, the most enjoyable initiative is Amble for ARA, where individuals take part in the City to Bay Fun Run as a means of raising awareness for this inspirational organisation.”
After graduating, Nicholas hopes to pursue studies in occupational therapy and take on more volunteer work – something he’s had to dial down due to Year 12.
2017 award recipients:
Blackfriars Priory School – Mark Macapagal, Dan, Manalo; Cabra Dominican College – Tony Saad, Constance McDevitt; Cardijn College – Pietro Trentin, Sisilina Saukuru; Christian Brothers College – Scott Bradbrook, Austin Lovell; Gleeson College –Eva Thompson, Lachlan Agius; Kildare College – Emily Pavia, Emily Hoskin; Loreto College – Lauren Cook, Chloe Sexton; Mary MacKillop College – Michaela Matthews, Renae Albuino; Mercedes College – Matthew Forrest, Isobel Chambers; Mt Carmel College – Emily Hodges, Damian Mittiga; Nazareth Catholic College – Renae Salerno, Jonathon Pantelios; OLSH College – Angelika (Amor) Magpayo; Tracy Tran; Our Lady of La Vang – Isabella Banon, Luke Carbone; Rostrevor College – Michael Sosa, Alexander Cusack; Sacred Heart College – Paulina Malycha, Liam Byrne; St Aloysius College – Imogen Lee, Clare Peterson; St Columba College – Tanya Mammone, Moses Tong; St Dominic’s Priory College – Aniella Grant, Nhi Nguyen; St Francis De Sales College – Patience Castleton, Louis McDonald; Saint Ignatius College – Isabel Barber, Joseph Gavini; St Mary’s College – Sophie Dignan, Marie Khoury; St Michael’s College – Asha Kuchel, Nicholas Lopresti; St Patrick’s Technical College – Kiara Ellis, Anthony Kayal; St Paul’s College – Chandler Dorsey, Thomas Piro; Tenison Woods College – Laura Turley, Emmerson White; Thomas More College – Rebecca Etienne, Maria Laurito; Xavier College – Grace Slattery, Jackson Furst.