The Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017 was hosted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in partnership with the Archdiocese of Sydney. It was held from 7-9 December 2017.
The Diocese of Parramatta was covering the event daily and providing regular updates via:
Catholic Outlook – www.catholicoutlook.org/category/catholiclife/youth/acyf/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/parracatholic/
Instagram – www.instagram.com/parracatholic/
Twitter – www.twitter.com/parracatholic
To read about Day One – ACYF, click here.
To read about Day Two – ACYF, click here.
Say Yes to Him
By Jordan Grantham
The largest Catholic Mass since World Youth Day 2008 wrapped up an incredible three days of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017 (ACYF).
Around 15,000 people attended the final Mass, held at the Domain in Sydney after 3 days of plenaries, talks, lectures, music, dancing and Adoration.
Day three of ACYF began with two Masses and talks and wonderful performances from Gus & Iggy, Sr Rosie Drum MGL, Fr Rob Galea, and Gary and Natasha Pinto.
Throughout the day, there was also music by young Lasallian DJ JordyB who worked the crowd with his electronic beats. Fr Chris Eaton MGL had the crowds cheering with his live mixing and live onstage rapping.
Sr Rosie Drum MGL, Assistant Director of Catholic Youth Parramatta, spoke movingly about ‘Courageous Catholicism’.
The talk in the ACU sponsored Charles Moses Stadium responded to contemporary challenges to express faith.
Charles Moses Stadium is associated with the furious axe swinging of the Royal Easter Show’s wood chopping competition, an ironic setting to consider people killed because of their for love for Christ.
It was inspired by “just how hard it is to publicly give witness to our faith at the moment,” Sr Rosie told Catholic Outlook.
“I hear so many young people say that it’s so hard to express our faith in this hostile culture.”
Sr Rosie’s talk made the point that it has always been hard to be Catholic.
She alluded to the persecution of Our Lord and the earliest Catholics. This is detailed numerous times in scripture, such as: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)
The positive reaction to Sr Rosie’s talk pleasantly surprised her. The festival was a beautiful opportunity for students to experience the way the Church does care about them, she said.
The Australian Young Christian Workers led an equally challenging presentation at the Social Justice Activity Centre in the Dome of Sydney Showgrounds; ‘The Power of the Story’.
Workshop attendees included Fr Peter Kruk OP, AYCW Chaplain and Sr Louise McKeogh of the Diocese of Parramatta’s Social Justice Office.
Elise Ganley, member of the Australian Catholic Youth Council also attended the Young Christian Workers workshop and spoke to Catholic Outlook.
Elise and Cass Bull from Vinnies Brisbane facilitated the 12 Bishop X-change listening sessions throughout ACYF.
“You want young people to have an opportunity to speak and it’s not as much catechesis,” she explained.
The sessions covered hot button issues such as mental health, same-sex attraction, drugs and alcohol, environmental issues and rural experiences.
An interesting discussion arose with Elise regarding polarisation within the Church and ‘cafeteria Catholicism’.
“People put me in a box,” Elise said, because of her commitment to social justice issues. What many people may not realise is that she is equally committed to pro-life causes, she said.
Returning to the Charles Moses Stadium early afternoon, Frances Hopkins from the western Sydney based Culture Project shared a hopeful and positive message of authentic romantic love.
The Culture Project recently returned from speaking to Schoolies attendees about true love on the Gold Coast.
The young people “reacted in the same way as young people on the beach in Schoolies last week,” Katherine Turnbull of the Culture Project said.
Frances shared a poignant story of a conversation between the Culture Project and a young woman at Schoolies.
Culture Project asked the schoolies participant about the difference between love and lust. The young lady answered ‘You just have to wait’.
This was surprising because the young woman had not learnt specifically about the virtue of chastity, Frances said.
“It’s great to see that that’s a universal truth that comes across,” Katherine said.
“It’s advertised as the best week of your life and what we see is a whole lot of brokenness, loneliness and disappointment because what we’re made for is much more than that.”
As the afternoon progressed the thousands of youth began to depart by train for the Shrine of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, North Sydney.
St Mary of the Cross is Australia’s only canonised saint and a special patron for young people and students, whom she endeavoured to educate and sanctify.
After prayers at her tomb in North Sydney, the thousands departed by foot to cross the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival’s concluding Mass in the Domain.
The pilgrims made their way to the Domain for a concert by Grammy award nominee Matt Maher, who has been the headline act at ACYF. Emily Wilson and Steve Angrisano also entertained the crowd.
The concert led into the final Mass that was attended by thousands of people and most of Australia’s Catholic Bishops.
The Mass was led by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney and Bishop Delegate for Youth. Concelebrating were bishops, priests and seminarians from around Australia.
In his homily Archbishop Anthony made references to Star Wars. He reminded those gathered that, “Those with Jesus love the light and always choose the Good News of reverence and compassion.”
Archbishop Anthony told the crowd “Christ is here for you” and “Say yes to Him” the same way his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary said yes to Christ.
The Australian Catholic Youth Festival ended as it began, with Mass. Over three days, ACYF was attended by tens of thousands of young Catholics from around Australia and the world.
At the conclusion of Mass, Archbishop Anthony blessed the crowd and announced the next ACYF will be held in the Archdiocese of Perth in 2019.
The crowd then danced away under a cloud of fireworks and music.