The local Plenary Council member last month took up the newly-created position of senior advisor for Ministry as part of CESA’s restructured Catholic Identity and Mission team. The role includes overseeing the Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults, the Catholic Schools Music Festival and the area of faith formation for parents and families.
The 26 year old said she was excited to be part of a team that would offer “wonderful opportunities” for encounter and engagement in the Archdiocese.
“I’ve had my heart in the youth space and that’s been my strength, and I’m excited to be back in that space in Adelaide with additional areas of responsibility,” she said.
“The team is filled with incredibly passionate people who have been doing a world of good with people and for people for many years, so I am really lucky to be able to learn from them and be inspired by them.
“I want to have the conversations, learn the stories, meet the people, so that will be a lot of the ‘nuts and bolts’ initially. I’m not coming in as an expert but coming in to learn from the experts.
“And as is the nature of any ministry, there is never a point where you can switch off or take a break, so I am just diving in!”
Maddy said when she applied for the position it was not part of her long-term “plan” but in recent years she had learnt to follow God’s lead.
“Even before I went to Sydney I had all these plans in place, God laughs and then you end up somewhere you never thought you would be,” she quipped.
“My plan was always to go to the Northern Territory…I had a scholarship to study a Masters of teaching and then the job came up in Sydney, which was the last place I thought I would be.
“So it’s just been a journey of saying ‘yes’ and not knowing what lies ahead, but being really excited by the opportunities that come up.”
Arriving in Sydney in October 2020 to take up the position of pastoral associate at the Australian Catholic University’s Blacktown campus also didn’t pan out as she had planned.
COVID restrictions meant that for the first eight months of her job everything was undertaken online and she was unable to visit the campus.
“I didn’t meet any of my colleagues or my team or any students,” she said.
“To be a campus minister and I hadn’t met one student – it was really hard. But the power of social media prevailed and we started an Instagram account with a couple of the other departments at ACU and within days we had 200 people following us.
“While we didn’t physically meet people we were able to reach young people which was really exciting.”
Living in western Sydney Maddy also took the opportunity to connect with Catholic Youth Paramatta and its faith formation team and tap into the “rich and wonderful things they are doing there”.
In 2021 Maddy was thrilled to be appointed as the Oceania delegate to the international youth advisory body established by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
“We are there to advise and amplify voices in spaces that I don’t think they’ve been heard before,” she said, adding it was another wonderful opportunity she had been fortunate to be given.
“If I told my Year 9 self when I was getting involved with the youth group at Sacred Heart College that this is where I would be in 10 years’ time I wouldn’t have believed it.
“I am excited now to be in a position where I can give back and help create more of those opportunities for other young people, parents and families, and so many people extending from that.”
A parishioner at Brighton, Maddy said she felt blessed to be back among family and appreciated being able to draw on the knowledge of her mum, Liz Keogh, currently deputy director of Catholic Education in the diocese of Port Pirie, and her dad, Paul Forde, a former school principal.