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Happy hiking


Want to rejuvenate or celebrate your faith with others during the coming Advent season? Then Alyse de Souza has the perfect suggestion, ‘go take a hike’!

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As part of the offerings of the Catholic Collective Youth group founded in 2019, Catholics over the age of 18 are being encouraged to dust off their walking shoes and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Adelaide Hills while nurturing their faith.

To be held on four consecutive Saturday mornings beginning November 27, the hikes will feature prayer and a guest speaker who will address one of the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love.

The hikes, which are also held during the season of Lent, are just one of the many activities organised by the firecracker Catholic, whose strong faith inspires her to do more.

Besides being a member of the choir and a talented musician who plays in a youth band during Mass at The Annunciation Church, the 24 year old is also on the Hectorville Parish Council and is involved in a range of youth activities throughout the Archdiocese. She was delighted – although secretly a bit nervous – to be a participant in the historic Diocesan Assembly held in September.

“I went to the Assembly with the intention on finding my speakers (for the hikes),” she joked during a relaxed interview with The Southern Cross.

“I didn’t know what to expect… but it was very good.

“One thing they did was go around the table so we all got a chance to say our experience of the particular topic, so that was really good. I’ve had discussions before where it just ends up blaming and blaming, and I didn’t like that. But the assembly wasn’t like that at all.

“At the Diocesan Assembly I spoke of how I have had some really good experiences when we have intergenerational support. Someone in our group, who was much older, said that the question people keep asking is, ‘where are the young people?’ when the question really is, ‘where are we in the young people’s lives?’

“It was such a valid point and I’m so glad she said that because it has stuck with me.”

Alyse said the sharing of knowledge and experiences between generations at the Assembly led her to change the format of the Advent hikes so they are now open to everyone and not limited to just young people.

Hikers take part in the 2020 Lent trek through Morialta Conservation Park.

“I told this to the Parish Council (at Hectorville) and said ‘keep your knees good!’ Hopefully they weren’t offended,” she laughed.

“Everything is done and organised. We don’t need the older people to do anything, just be there. That kind of vibe older people bring to a youth setting is just so good.

“When you have discussions with people you want to be comfortable to share what you are struggling with in the faith. When you have someone who is older, they have probably been there already and it’s just nice to have their input and experience.”

Of Indian heritage, Alyse said attending Mass and her Catholic faith had always been part of her upbringing.

All musically minded, she and her two sisters and brother formed a band with some other parishioners in the church 12 years ago and regularly play at Mass. However, it wasn’t until she attended her first Praise and Worship gathering of Catholic musicians in 2011 that her faith seemed to hit the right note.

“Before then I didn’t really get it,” she admitted.

“The first Praise and Worship night I ever attended we were doing the music for it and we didn’t know what songs to sing so we put in some mainstream songs, like the Black Eyed Peas.

“That night there were a lot of other bands from other parishes and they actually played real songs and we thought, what is this? They were raising their hands and singing and we were thinking, what is going on?

“For me, something that now connects me to my faith is music.”

She also is connected through a range of other youth activities.

This year she and her sister organised a series of gatherings for youth to watch the eight episodes of Season 1 of The Chosen, a television drama based on the life of Jesus. Each week they discussed the topics raised and shared a meal, and they plan to do it all again next year when Season 2 is released.

Alyse said it was wonderful that fellow parishioner Juliet Navarro offered her home for the sessions and even cooked for the young people.

“She’s so active in Youth for Christ which is brilliant because she is there as a support and she knows how the program works – and that is exactly what we need.”

Alyse also participates in a Tuesday evening session after Mass and Adoration in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, where young people discuss a book they are reading as a group over a pub meal. And she was part of a recent pilot of the Alpha program, so she can now help run it in the Hectorville parish.

When she’s not busy organising hikes or other youth activities, Alyse works as a spatial services analyst for the natural gas transmission company APA Group, utilising some of the skills gleaned from a double degree in Geospatial Science and Environmental Science.

It’s a busy life but she loves being able to share her faith with others and is hopeful for the future of the Church.

“She’ll be right,” she laughed, adding that young people are committed, even though they might not be seen

“A lot of young people don’t belong to a parish community and they just go to where Church is around for them that day, and that changes,” she explained.

“Where are the young people? They are meeting and doing things, probably where it is convenient to them.”

For more information about the Advent hikes go to


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