The Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017 is hosted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in partnership with the Archdiocese of Sydney. It will be held from 7-9 December 2017.
The Diocese of Parramatta will be 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.
Purity and womanhood feature on Immaculate Conception
By Jordan Grantham
Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta made his mark on the Australian Catholic Youth Festival on 8 December 2017 at the Sydney Olympic Park.
Bishop Vincent celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, preaching on the courage of women, especially Our Lady and a modern heroine, Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Prize winning activist for women’s education.
Christianity is not a religion of mediocrity, he said, alluding to Pope Francis: “We do not simply avoid sin and do the bare minimum.”
“Pope Francis has constantly challenged us to be courageous,” he said.
The treatment of asylum seekers and Aboriginal Australians were also passionately addressed in the Bishop’s homily.
“Australia is a wonderful country but where is the treatment of asylum seekers?”
“Australia is a wonderful country but where is the treatment of its indigenous people?”
Bishop Vincent also made brief pop culture references, encouraging participants to live joy and not let it “just be a word”.
“Dream big dreams, shake it up!” he said.
Before Bishop Vincent’s Mass, the ACYF band started day two of ACYF 2017 with a stellar performance. It was followed by other artistic performances and a lecture by Bishop Mark Edwards of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. This was followed by the guys from mobile laundry operation, Orange Sky Laundry.
Keynote speaker Emily Wilson from the US shared her faith experience and led a decade of the rosary with the Qudos Bank Arena crowd.
Finally, Fr Rob Galea and his band led final song and worship for the morning plenary.
The afternoon Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception contrasted poignantly with a popular morning talk, ‘Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Society’ from Melinda Tankard Reist of Collective Shout.
The talk detailed awful messages from advertising, which rob children of their innocence and perpetrate disturbing attitudes between the sexes.
“I’m bringing them together as a wake up call,” she told the silent room of more than 1,200 stunned youth.
Melinda’s challenge to end pervasive sexualised advertising received a standing ovation from the audience.
In the afternoon, the purity of Australia’s natural environment took centre stage in the Dome during a presentation from the Aboriginal Carbon Fund, a Caritas partner.
The Aboriginal Carbon Fund reduces carbon emissions and builds Aboriginal communities through effective land management techniques, such as savannah burning.
Large savannah grassfires occur annually in Cape York and the Northern Territory. Savannah burning mitigates carbon emissions.
“When you burn early when it’s cool and wet, you reduce carbon emissions,” Rowan Foley, General Manager, said.
According to Rowan, this can reduce carbon emitted from the savannah bushfires by 80%.
“We’re partners with Caritas and we want every Catholic school to go carbon neutral,” he said.
After considering a school’s current carbon emission, students are encouraged to reduce consumption and finally to balance any carbon emissions through the services of the Aboriginal Carbon Fund.
Prices can range from $10-20/tonne of carbon.
Partners value the positive impact on the Aboriginal community, which provides employment in land management.
Day Two of ACYF also had a Maronite Mass! East met West, with a Maronite Mass led by Maronite Bishop, Bishop Tarabay and Archbishop Anthony Fisher from the Archdiocese of Sydney.
There were also many talks and lectures about faith, including a talk by Fr Thomas McFadden OFM Cap who passionately delivered his thesis on St Francis and the “joy in his heart…God in his heart” and how St Francis found perfect joy and love.
The same joy and love that inspired our own Bishop Vincent to join a Franciscan order.
The fourth and final plenary wrapped up an equally wonderful second day at ACYF17.
The house band got the crowd fired up and there were majestic performances by Lifted, Emily Wilson, Steve Angrisano, Gary and Natasha Pinto, Amy Gill and Broken Bay actors.
Friday night’s plenary session in Qudos Bank Arena opened with a ‘coffee chat’ hosted by Sr Hilda Scott OSB.
Bishop Vincent received roaring applause at his introduction as one of several guests in the chat with Sr Hilda.
They discussed growing youth awareness of mental health considerations.
“If you have to deal with this know that you are not alone,” Bishop Vincent said.
“You are supported by a community of faith guided by the Gospel of Jesus who always went around doing good looking for people who are distressed or even ostracised in any shape or form,” he said.
“I think as the Church we need to say to people affected by mental illness, don’t suffer alone, reach out, there’s someone there to help you.”
Bishop Vincent pointed to St Peter reaching out to Jesus on the Lake of Galilee.
“He reached out to Jesus. The hand of Jesus might be a friend, counsellor priest, a sister or someone beyond your home, neighbourhood and parish.”
The Bishop asked young people to pray for all the Bishops.
“They strive to serve the people of God in this challenging time and to restore faith, trust, hope in the Church of Australia going beyond the 21st century.”
“We too, need the prayer and blessing of the people of God as we endeavour to be people of God after the example of Jesus.”
Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra-Goulburn gave a rousing speech about Our Lady and the power of faith today.
Performances in the evening plenary included Emily Wilson, Steve Angrisano, Gary Pinto and Matt Maher.
The evening concluded with an amazing atmosphere as thousands of young people knelt in silence and reverence before the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green led the adoration, gazing on Our Lord in complete stillness, followed by a procession around the stadium with the monstrance, accompanied by Matt Maher’s music.
Matt Maher and his band then wrapped up the plenary with a stellar performance that had people back on their feet and dancing away.
For those who can’t attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Homebush and the Domain, XT3 will be bringing the key events to you live and streamed over the internet.
Check out the following events, dates and times that you can watch direct on YouTube here.
Saturday 9th December
Pre-Mass Concert with Matt Maher
With thanks to XT3.