Posted by Julia Goonan
on 13 February 2020
Franco De Joya was born in the Philippines and migrated to Australia when he was 1. Growing up in Australia, raised in a Catholic household by Lasallian alumni, Franco grew to love his Lasallian community and flourish not only in Australia, but in New Zealand too.
We sat down with Franco, amidst the beginning of his second year as Youth Minister at Oakhill College to get to know a little more about him and his journey to where he is today.
Franco stepped into the role of Youth Minister at Oakhill after being a Lasallian Volunteer in New Zealand in 2018.
What made you go from being a Lasallian Volunteer to Youth Minister?
I think it just felt like a natural progression, after everything I experienced whilst on my Lasallian Volunteer journey, I wanted to continue that somewhere else and still have that relationship with the Lasallian community and still utilise my skills as I prepare to become a teacher. I'm studying secondary teaching at the moment.
What does being a Lasallian mean to you?
Being Lasallian to me is all about the relationships between teacher and student, student and student and building that sense of community which is based on faith and the story of De La Salle. I think when you're in a Lasallian school, you get exposed to that real sense of service to others. The whole charism is centred on education for the less fortunate, so immediately you're exposed to this whole aspect of helping others and that really goes to show in the community with how the teachers approach the students and what not. I guess just being in that environment encourages a person to develop those kinds of values and really just become an all-rounded person.
Are there any major challenges as a Youth Minister?
Definitely being part-time, the time balance, especially transitioning from Lasallian Volunteer and being at a school full time and then coming back and having to limit my time to two days a week was a big jump to step back and separate myself. I'm still working on it and juggling university as well.
Over the last year of being a youth minister, what has changed or made you grow as a person, have you achieved any goals?
I think just being able to see students grow and develop in their own way. For example, I've been working with the Oakhill Youth Group and seeing year 11 Lasallian Youth Leaders who have never experienced youth group before or find their niche within the service part of the role, and to see them grow in confidence is incredible. A goal I achieved was definitely maintaining the youth group that Richie passed on to me. A big thing I wanted to do was keep up those ministries and initiatives and build upon it. The second goal I achieved was connecting with other Lasallian schools. I went to Armidale a couple of times during the year and to see some of the students come back as Lasallian Volunteers and as student leaders is really awesome.
What would you tell your younger self?
I'd tell my younger self that people are good give them a chance and it's okay to be vulnerable. Share your gifts early. Don't be afraid to take opportunities as they come, don't wait for it.
What advice would you give to someone who's thinking of becoming Youth Minister?
Really just focus on your relationships. Relationships with students, with teachers, God, and yourself. Really just focus on positive relationship building and the rest will come easy.
Franco has played a huge role alongside Matthew Murrie at Oakhill College over the last year. The pair will continue to work as Youth Ministers again this year. Franco has blessed many conferences, reflection days and seminars with his incredible talent for Slam Poetry, and has struck a chord with hundreds of Lasallians with his family's history of struggle and determination. We wish Franco the best of luck with his year of Youth Ministry ahead of him.