Melbourne Catholic singer-songwriter Gen Bryant has encouraged more than 250 Catholic primary school students to listen to what God is telling them during her performance at LIFTED Live Jr.
The students, from 17 Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) primary schools had gathered for a day of music and witness at West HQ, Rooty Hill on 12 February.
Gen, coming off the back of performances at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth in December 2019, performed original songs to a boisterous crowd who were happy to sing and dance along.
In introducing one of her newest songs, Raise Up Your Voice, Gen said that she felt inspired to use her gifts of music to do good in the world.
“I’ve been feeling really passionate about using my voice for doing good in the world. We all have different gifts and talents that God has given us. Mine’s in music, so I’ve thought what is a way that I can use my voice to do good things for others,” she said.
James Camden, Director, Catholic Youth Parramatta, told the crowd, “We wanted a day where we could celebrate the contributions that you all make to bringing faith to live in your primary schools.
“This will hopefully be an amazing day for you and your teachers and a day to kickstart your year of ministry with your peers in your primary schools.”
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, told the young students about what Pope Francis is calling young people to do through his Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit.
“Pope Francis wants to convey the message of St Francis of Assisi to our time, which is to live in solidarity with one another, but especially the poor and the marginalised and also to live in harmony with God’s creation,” he said.
Reflecting on Bishop Vincent’s message, Gen returned to the stage and told the students that in her times of struggle, she always calls out to God for help.
“A big part of my story is how in the hard times, in the tough times, I always know that in my heart, when I’m struggling with something, that I reach out not just to my friends and family, but I reach a little bit further to God and hold on to God’s love.
“Sometimes, I can feel small in this world, and in those times, I need to reach out to God who created us and everything. So we ask God to give us strength for when we feel small. We ask Jesus to be able to trust in Him when we don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going. I ask the Holy Spirit to be with me, to give me a light when I’m in the darkness,” she said.
The young students explored the Bishop’s call to action in group activities following lunch. Students were encouraged to come up with ways to share the message of Christ is alive and care for our common home through fundraising initiatives and awareness campaigns at their schools.
Patrice Moriarty, the Social Justice Coordinator for the Diocese of Parramatta, then spoke to the children about how they can enact social justice projects in their school communities through Project Compassion and other programs.
Gen returned to stage for a brief question and answer segment, before leading the students in a finale of Raise Up Your Voice.
The LIFTED Live events continue on Thursday, with the Year 12 Student Leaders session during the day and the LIFTED Live in the evening.
The Thursday evening session, which is open to young people, their families and friends, starts at 7.30pm with a $5 entrance fee on arrival. To register, please visit the CYP website.