Diocese’s Good Friday Night Walk featured in Daily Telegraph

By Joanne Vella, 22 March 2024
Young pilgrims are seen carrying a cross during Catholic Youth Parramatta's Good Friday Night Walk in April 2023. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Ahead of next week’s Good Friday Night Walk, a highlight of the youth ministry calendar in the Diocese of Parramatta, the Parramatta Advertiser’s Joanne Vella spoke with Qwayne Guevara, Manager, Catholic Youth Parramatta, and Year 12 student leader Olivia Murace about the pilgrimage and how it brings young people of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains together in faith.

Western Sydney young Catholics prepare for Good Friday walk

Clad in their hoodies and kicks, 800 Catholic youths are poised to show their faith with a 12km walk through Sydney’s west to mark the most significant event on the Christian calendar – Good Friday.

Parramatta Diocese organises the journey – now more than 15 years old – from St Patrick’s Mary Queen of the Parish, Blacktown, at 11pm on Good Friday to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, before sunrise on Saturday.

That’s a hefty step count in a demonstration of faith as young people observe the crucifixion of Jesus Christ more than 2000 years ago.

Along the way, the throng pauses at Our Lady of Lourdes Seven Hills, St Anthony’s Toongabbie, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Wentworthville and St Oliver Plunkett’s Harris Park to pray and reflect.

A parish youth group leads a Stations of the Cross reenactment during the Good Friday Night Walk at St Oliver Plunkett Parish, Harris Park. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Diocese of Parramatta Catholic Youth Parramatta manager Qwayne Guevara said numbers exceeded 1000 before the Covid pandemic but 200 more participants were expected next week than last year.

She said those who had witnessed more than one million worshippers celebrate World Youth Day in Lisbon last year had “reinvigorated a sense of mission for young people”.

“Many have come home and wanted to be part of their parish and school, and build a relationship with God,’’ she said.

“We’ve been known across the country as the most vibrant and diverse youth community in the Catholic Church and I think that’s a big testament to the young people here.’’

Pilgrims are seen on the Good Friday Night Walk. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

She adds how young people are searching for more in life at a time when social media was driving a rise in mental health problems.

The journey is a community experience with volunteers cooking a barbecue breakfast at Parramatta to welcome back weary walkers.

“Overall there’s a sense of celebration and accomplishment and I think it really prepares them to appreciate Easter,’’ Ms Guevara said.

“I think they’re really finding a sense of home in the Church.’’

Young pilgrims pose for a photograph outside CommBank Stadium during the Good Friday Night Walk. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

St John Paul II Catholic College year 12 student Olivia Murace will hit the footpath with her friends from the Schofields school for the first time this year.

The 17 year old also attended World Youth Day in August and is a practising Catholic.

“I do believe our Church is constantly evolving and influenced by different beliefs but in my opinion Christ influenced his life for us and as young people in the Church we need to recognise that,’’ she said.

“Being Catholic is a way of life and we are united with our belief and bond with each other.’’

There is still time to register for the Good Friday Night Walk which goes from St Patrick’s Church, Blacktown, to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Good Friday evening 29 March. The walk is open to all ages, but those under 16 require parental permission. Register today by visiting parracatholic.org/gfnw

If you wish to volunteer as a walk marshal, bus driver or as registration support, please contact the Catholic Youth Parramatta team on their Facebook or Instagram pages.

This article was originally published by the Parramatta Advertiser (subscription required) on Wednesday 20 March. Reproduced with permission from the author.


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