On Palm Sunday this year, youth from all over the world commemorated the 25th international World Youth Day.
In the Diocese of Parramatta, 30 young people from various migrant communities led the Palm Sunday procession from Prince Alfred Park, carrying flags of the world representing the many cultures in Western Sydney, yet all united in the one big family of the Church.
More than 800 people filled St Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate this special event with the new Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev. Bishop Anthony Fisher OP. The joyful but reverent atmosphere gave a special note of solemnity to the celebration.
In the cathedral hall after Mass, a BBQ dinner was followed by a lively slideshow that gave us a glimpse into the life of Bishop Anthony. He then opened up the message of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on the occasion of WYD 2010, that Jesus has a special great love for the youth and wants to have a personal relationship with each one.
Like the rich young man in the Gospel, we too are rich in talents and gifts and we are called to follow God with unreserved trust in the plan of love he has for each person.
It was then time to get to know Bishop Anthony more closely in an informal and spontaneous question and answer session. Young people were especially interested in his life journey from being a lawyer, to a Dominican and then a Bishop; his views of our society; and his special love and passion for the youth.
Bishop Anthony said that although he had met many Parramatta youth through World Youth Day and on other occasions, this was his first chance to meet them in a big group together and to talk to them one to one.
“I was really impressed by the beautiful Mass they celebrated, by the fun they had together afterwards with the music and dancing, and by their perceptive questions during our discussion time,” he said.
“It was a real treat to see our cathedral full to over-flowing with young people. The atmosphere was electric, yet still very reverent. Cathedrals don’t often have contemporary instruments and music but it makes sense for a young people’s Mass, and their participation was tremendous.
“I told the young people that the Church doesn’t take them for granted. We have to connect better with them. If they are to be the leaders and servants of our Church and our world in the future, we have to make sure they are at home spiritually in our Church.
“We chatted about the story of the ‘rich young man’ in the Gospel. I pointed out that they are all rich – even if not financially. They are rich in talents, hopes and dreams. The Church and the world need their energy and imagination. I was delighted by how responsive they were. There are some very gifted and idealistic young people here in Sydney’s West – full of faith and promise. It was a real boost for this bishop!”
At the end of the evening, Bishop Anthony encouraged everyone to start planning for WYD in Madrid 2011. He promised his support and collaboration with all present in making the dream of Madrid come true.
A big thank you to Bishop Anthony for the special night he spent with us, to our sponsor Campion College, and those who helped in the organisation. Without their generous support the event would not have been such a big success!
To view more photos, click here. Photos: David Tang, Alphonsus Fok and Grace Lu.