Irene Baik

We welcome our third guest to Talking Mission, where we introduce you to people who are turning Mission into action.

1. Can you introduce yourself and your work as a Youth and Schools Engagement Officer at Catholic Mission?

My name is Irene Baik and I have just started with Catholic Mission as the Youth and Schools Engagement Officer. I've worked in the Youth and Schools space for a few years now and after my own experience of what youth empowerment can achieve, I want to share that experience around for all young people. It is important for them to know that they are valued and that they have a voice in all matters, especially in spaces where society doesn't think to look for young people's opinions.

2. When did you start to volunteer and work within the Mission Formation space? Can you share a bit about your journey?

In Year 11, I joined a group at my high school called the 'Young Christian Students'. At that time, it was the only social justice group at my school that was truly youth-led. It really felt like a place where I could turn the teen angst that I had for the world into a passion to make the world better. When I graduated, I transitioned to the Young Adults space called the 'Young Christian Workers' (YCW) and have volunteered and worked in that space for about 5 years since. Throughout my time at YCW, I've had the privilege to hold many titles from Local President, Vice President, and Youth Engagement Officer.

3. How do you see your work aligning with the work of Mission?

If I were to draw a Venn diagram with the work that I do with Youths and School engagement and the work of Mission, in the middle it would say Synodality. I'd like to think that through my work, not only are young people being shown different types of realities outside of their communities, but they are learning how to uphold the dignity of each person and are learning how to live right by the world. As a result, young people understand how they can live right by the world and by God, through putting Faith into Action.

4. How would you explain what Mission is to young people?

To me, Mission is the way to live right by the world given to us by God and to live right by God. Mission, simply put, is the responsibility of humans given by God to care for the world and the people on it. To uphold the dignity of each person and to share values like kindness, love, forgiveness and to practice being just, honest, and patient with everyone we meet. I think if you're doing those things above through different ways, whether it be through going to school, advocating for human rights, fighting for the dignity of all people, going to your work or anything you do, that's Mission.

5. What are the best ways to engage young people in the work of Mission?

In my experience, the best ways to engage with young people in the work of Mission have been to come with an open mind and especially with the best interests of young people as a priority. As someone who has been a part of the Mission Formation Space since my teen years, there is a difference between the people who want to further their own agenda for the sake of ‘mission’ and those who really put the young people that they work with, at the centre of Mission and who are passionate about young people's growth and understanding of Mission and Formation.

6. For many young people today, Mission is deeply linked to social justice; how would you explain this connection?

In my experience, Mission has always been deeply linked to social justice. Many young people that I know can resonate with me and with the way I think of Mission, that at its core, humans are responsible for the care of Earth and the people on it. Social justice is the vehicle to make it happen.