Hundreds of young people of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have sung, danced, played and prayed at the return of the Diocese of Parramatta’s largest gathering of young people.
After a two-year hiatus during COVID, Catholic Youth Parramatta’s annual celebration of young people, LIFTED Live in the Forecourt, made a triumphant return to the grounds of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Saturday 22 October.
Youth groups, families and school students enjoyed an evening of fun and faith that overshadowed the threat of rain in the air, with many young people welcoming the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new faces.
As the evening fell on the Feast Day of Pope St John Paul II, the founder of World Youth Day, it was only fitting that the Catholic Youth Parramatta team shared new information about their upcoming pilgrimage to the next World Youth Day in 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The audience got a sneak peek at the Diocesan-designed merchandise to be worn by pilgrims and heard from two potential pilgrims Judith-Grace and Vanessa from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville. The young women said that hearing the stories of previous pilgrims have inspired them to take the leap and both hope to discern their vocation whilst on pilgrimage.
Both women were amazed at the generosity already shown by their parish in supporting their fundraising efforts and encouraged other pilgrims to leverage networks in their parish communities who may be willing to help.
Throughout the evening, the gifts and talents of young people across the Diocese were LIFTED through musical performances, an art exhibition and local small businesses showcasing their Catholic-based products.
Joanna, a youth leader from St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill, explained to Catholic Outlook that her small business Lourdes Jewellery, which sells resin jewellery, lanyards and keychains, started as a COVID project whilst she was studying her Masters of Teaching.
“Today was more than just selling things, it was connecting with people, especially after COVID,” she said.
“We haven’t had a communal event in a while, so I really missed talking to people, seeing people reconnect and getting to know the local community.”
Amongst the energetic obstacle course and inflatable basketball shootout, young people were also invited to take time out with The Lord, with the Cathedral open for prayer and Adoration.
Adoration Coordinator Caitlin, a youth leader from St John XXIII Parish Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens, said that it was important to have time to reflect amongst all the busyness of life.
“It’s important to be in God’s presence, take a moment to breathe and be grateful for where you are and the people you are with,” she said.
“My favourite part of Adoration is sitting in silence. There’s not a lot of times where I can be alone with my thoughts, and to just sit and look at the Eucharist and know this is what my time is for.”
Local musician Darwin from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills, told Catholic Outlook that he was glad to perform during LIFTED, adding that music is a big part of how he expresses his faith.
“The reason why I write music is because of my faith. All the stuff that I write about is essentially reflections and prayers that I have, and they’re things that I need to share,” he said.
“Over the last few years, it’s been pretty tough for everyone, but I think everyone coming together, the connection, the fellowship and being together in Christ is the most important thing.
“This is an experience that we all needed, and it’s well overdue.”
Bishop Vincent is seeking applications from aspiring Small Group Leaders to accompany young people of the Diocese of Parramatta on our pilgrimage to the next World Youth Day in Lisbon Portugal.
Small Group Leaders will provide accompaniment and support to each pilgrim, their safety and wellbeing, always exercise a responsible duty of care and facilitate opportunities that strengthen group morale and diocesan identity. The role is integral to facilitating the full participation of pilgrims, as well as the valuable pre and post-pilgrimage formation program.
Please email email@example.com to express your interest and request a position description with further details of the selection criteria by Wednesday 2 November.
Applications for Diocesan pilgrims will open shortly.
View images from LIFTED Live in the Forecourt here or below: