Gap Year

The Society of Mary and Challenge 2000, each year, offer eight young people the opportunity to take part in a Gap Year programme.

Ideally participants have just completed Year 13 and wish to gain real life experience before choosing their future careers. The programme is also suitable for a young person who wants to take “time out” from University or work.

The aims of the Gap Year are to:

  • Provide an opportunity for young Catholics to search for the purpose and meaning of and direction for their lives.
  • Provide a formation programme that focuses on the holistic development of young people and challenges them to be their best selves.
  • Develop leadership skills and a range of life skills so that young people in the future and present are able to lead their communities and church.
  • Provide an opportunity where the respective charisms of the Society of Mary and Challenge 2000 can be explored by young people in a real and demanding way.
  • Offer Young People a positive opportunity to serve and to gain life and employment experience.

During the Gap Year programme the young people work alongside each other, and also work at Challenge 2000, Marist agencies, Colleges or other community organisations and groups.

The programme is based primarily in Wellington, New Zealand.

Enrolment Procedures

Applicants are required to:

  1. Have completed Year 13
  2. Had some previous active involvement in community/church
  3. Return the Application Form
  4. Provide two references
  5. Undertake a Police Check
  6. Be interviewed by Gap Year Staff

The Gap Year includes the following elements

  • Working for those in need
  • Developing the personal and inter personal relationships skills required for working/living with others
  • Personal development; including setting long term goals and motivation
  • Spiritual development; developing a relationship with God, a sense of being Marist and belong to a community of other young people striving to live the gospel
  • Gaining a range of qualifications and skills to equip young people for the rest of their lives.

During the Gap Year each participant will have opportunities to develop the following elements that are required for a balanced life: Work-Social-Personal-Spiritual-Intellectual-Physical

Eeach participant will complete three days a week on placement with a recognised social service provider/education provider/community or Church agency. For the first month, during the initial orientation each participant may work at Challenge 2000, where immediate supervision, assessment and training will take place.

Whilst at Challenge 2000 participants will do a range of things: e.g.

  • Tutor at an Alternative Education School
  • Mentor young people
  • Assist with fundraising events
  • Go on missions
  • Community work with families or the elderly
  • Help run leadership days and retreats
  • Assist with Youth Ministry Programmes

In the middle of the year, Gap Year participants will also be involved in a month long continuous placement.This placement may be at another social service provider in New Zealand, or in the Pacific Islands, or perhaps further a field. Participants will be assessed on their needs and skills and there will be a process (including the wishes of the participant) for assigning placement projects.

Education and Formation
Those participating in the GAP YEAR will undertake both practical and theoretical training. Education and formation reflect the six elements: work, social, personal, spiritual, intellectual and physical. The methodology and teaching format will include formal presentations, group work, “hands-on” work, reflection of experiences, guest speakers, NZQA study papers and individual projects. Topics include:


  • Employee responsibilities and rights
  • Codes of conduct and organizational values
  • Challenge 2000 Culture
  • Time management
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Models of social/youth work
  • Basic counseling skills
  • Development and presentation of programmes
  • Use of technology


  • Communication skills
  • Group decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership skills
  • Skills for living and working in a group
  • Relationships


  • Life skills
  • Basic business skills
  • Etiquette
  • Personal awareness and world view
  • Basic understanding of human behaviour – theirs and others
  • Goal setting
  • Career planning
  • Dealing with personal difficulties
  • Sexuality


  • Images of God
  • Marist spirituality
  • Methods of personal prayer
  • Maori spirituality.
  • A Catholic Faith for these times
  • Faith of our ancestors


  • Introduction to Catholicism
  • Introduction to theology
  • Introduction to scripture
  • Introduction to church history
  • Catholic social teaching
  • Liturgy
  • Analysis and Reflection


  • Sporting and recreational activity
  • Nutrition
  • Health and fitness
  • Budgeting
  • Keeping healthy
  • Dental Hygiene

Gap students will also have an opportunity to learn about themselves through, Myers Briggs or the Enneagram, basic communication or counseling skills and would also be encouraged to attend external courses, e.g. First Aid or computer literacy or defensive driving courses or introduction to Maori Language, or the Youth Ministry courses run through the Catholic Centre.

Weekly meetings will occur with a Challenge 2000 or Marist supervisor.

A life coach/ spiritual director will be assigned to assist participants reflect on their personal lives and the development of their relationship with God.

Weekly timetable

  1. “Work” on Monday, Tuesday and Friday 8.30 – 5pm.
  2. Formation and training – Wednesday and Thursday.
  3. Some night or weekend work will be scheduled, depending on interests/aspirations of each participant. Time off will be provided during the week when this occurs.

The formation and training opportunities may also include other young people who wished to be associated with the Society of Mary or Challenge 2000.

Accommodation and Living Costs
Those who already live in the Wellington area may remain at home. Out of town participants will be provided with accommodation in either our youth houses or boarding with families.

An allowance of $130 will be made each week to cover living costs of the participants. This is to cover food, transport and other expenses.

Those who can afford it may be asked to make a contribution to the cost of the Gap Year Programme.

Contracts/ Insurance/Legal
Each participant will sign a Gap Year contract. Participants are responsible for their own health and personal insurances.

Outcomes hoped for
Those who successfully complete the Gap Year will:

  • Be able to identify their personal values and to clearly communicate them.
  • Have made a commitment to living out of their baptismal call to be priests, prophets and leaders
  • Have identified the career they wish to pursue and are ready to take the next step towards achieving it
  • Have a basic working understanding of life and how it works!
  • Have competence in the practical, work, social and personal skills listed in the programme
  • Have achieved most/all of the personal goals they set at the beginning of the Gap Year
  • Have a knowledge and understanding of: Social Justice, the call of the Gospel to serve, Bi-culturalism, and Marist Spirituality.
  • Have obtained a wide range of skills, including communication, assertiveness, reflection, programme planning, and life management.
  • Have discovered a new group of friends
  • Have met many new people who changed their lives and whose lives the Gap Year participants changed.

For more information or to apply to participate in the Gap Year, phone Challenge 2000 (04) 477 6827 or email

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