What was originally a small walk with a few hundred pilgrims, the Good Friday night walk has swelled to over 1500 participants.
On Good Friday, 19 April, beginning at 10pm and going through to the early hours of Holy Saturday, hundreds of young people will walk almost 20 kilometres and reflect on the Stations of the Cross within a contemporary context.
Following last year’s Good Friday night walk, James Camden, Director, Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP), and members of its organising committee felt that the walk needed to change.
“We had to think differently moving into the future,” James said.
“Every year, it has grown progressively, but then last year, the numbers really swelled by another 300 people.
“It was really at this point that we thought the walk was too big for what we could manage.
“We can’t imagine the walk decreasing in popularity, if anything, it’s going to increase in popularity.
“So, the [Diocesan] Youth Council made an important decision at their February meeting to split the walk, split our resources, and put on two really beautiful routes of reflection to the Cathedral,” he said.
Organised by CYP, the Good Friday Walk is a way for young people across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains to walk, talk, sing, and pray with Jesus.
“Every year, we ask people to stand if they are someone who has never done the Good Friday walk before, and every year, at least 60% of the crowd are brand new,” James explained.
“We will anticipate that again, over half the participants will be brand new to the walk.
“Many of them are not regular practicing Catholics, but have seen something challenging, exciting and meaningful about the walk – and that’s exactly what it should be,” he said.
This year, registered participants will be able to choose between two different routes which will meet at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
The new route will start at St Patrick’s Parish, Guildford, and will journey through Holy Family Parish, East Granville, Holy Trinity Parish, Granville, St Margaret Mary Parish Merrylands and St Oliver Plunkett Parish, Harris Park to arrive at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
The traditional route begins at St Patrick’s Church, Blacktown, and will travel to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills, St Anthony of Padua Parish, Toongabbie, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Wentworthville and Sacred Heart Parish, Westmead before reaching St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Throughout the walk, the expected 1500 participants will travel to a total of 11 churches, with security guards, police officers, St John’s Ambulance, first aid officers, volunteers from each parish, around 50 young people animating the prayers and reflections, 30 marshals, one bishop, and thousands of pancakes.
“Our marshals are a mix of people from all walks of life, many of whom aren’t young people. We’ve got great involvement from Young Christian Students (YCS), Young Christian Workers (YCW) and from Couples for Christ (CFC),” James said.
“We’re still looking for more marshals to help out with the walk.”
James said that over 1000 people have already registered for the night walk, with the traditional route almost at capacity.
However, James is encouraging returning pilgrims to try something new.
“Being a new route, we’re encouraging people that it’s not about which route you walk, it’s about that you are walking it for Jesus.
“I really hope that people will give a different route, different scenery, different churches a go, so that we can make the routes as even as possible with participants and the most reflective they can be,” he said.
James’ hints for those attending the Good Friday night walk:
- $5 entry fee to cover safety and security costs.
- BYO food and drink.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Muesli bars and water bottles will be on sale at Blacktown and Guildford for people who didn’t bring their own.
- If the weather looks bad, bring wet weather gear.
- Feel free to bring your own rosary beads, but they will also be available for purchase on the night.
Registrations for the Blacktown route are filling up, so to secure your place, register at visit https://parracatholic.org/goodfridaywalk/
To register as a marshal for the Good Friday walk, contact James Camden, Director, Catholic Youth Parramatta via email – firstname.lastname@example.org