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Maddy Forde presents Pope Francis with a cross from the Santa Teresa Spirituality Centre in Ltyentye Apurte, Northern Territory (The Southern Cross)

Adelaide Catholic youth leader Maddy Forde met Pope Francis during a meeting of the Vatican’s Youth Advisory Body, presenting him with a gift from Catholic Education South Australia. Source: The Southern Cross.

Ms Forde, a CESA employee and the Oceania representative to the Youth Advisory Body, presented the Pope with a cross designed by women from Santa Teresa Spirituality Centre in Ltyentye Apurte, Northern Territory.

In 2021, Ms Forde was invited by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life to be part of a group of 20 young people whose purpose is to carry the voices and stories of young people across the world to various departments within the Vatican to ensure the realities of young people are heard.

Representatives from Australia, Slovenia, Lebanon, Portugal, France, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Oceania, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil, Canada, US, Guinea, South Africa and Uganda met online at least once a month to discuss their passions and commitment to their faith.

The inaugural International Youth Advisory Body met in Rome late last year to reflect on the past four years of service since the Synod of Youth.

Ms Forde said the group’s meeting with Pope Francis was a “profoundly human moment, simple and gentle”.

“He greeted everyone individually, and in that small moment all I remember is the hazel colour of his eyes, the intentional meeting of my gaze, and the warmth of his hand,” she said. “Pope Francis [had] been unwell, and as he was speaking to us, his passion and care for young people was so abundantly evident as he gasped for breath in between each sentence.

“A great honour for me has been to share the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this global space, to teach some Kaurna language, to share artwork and stories, and to speak Pitjantjatjara in the Vatican to Pope Francis.”


Inspired by time with Pope Francis (The Southern Cross)