Just weeks out from one of the Catholic Church’s significant celebrations, students in Years 9 and 10 have had the chance to be LIFTED in the Holy Spirit.
In a brand new initiative, Catholic Youth Parramatta sang, danced, prayed and reflected with over 100 students from 11 Catholic high schools across Western Sydney as part of LIFTED Live Unleashed at West HQ, Rooty Hill on Friday 20 May.
Qwayne Guevara, Manager – Youth in the Diocese of Parramatta set the scene for the students. “We wanted to create a safe space that you can call home and somewhere you can experience and discuss your faith,” she told them.
“We want to reignite the community in the Diocese after a difficult couple of years.”
Students were excited to be able to meet with students from other schools, and sang and danced along with special guest performer, Melbourne-based Catholic singer-songwriter Gen Bryant.
During the day, the students reflected on what the Holy Spirit is and what role it plays in their lives.
Sean Finucane, Leader of Mission and Evangelisation at Gilroy Catholic College, Castle Hill, shared with the students his own experience of the Holy Spirit being with him and his wife following a miscarriage.
“I remember that my pain turned into an anger with God, and I remember talking to my wife about it, and she said, ‘just trust the Holy Spirit’,” he explained.
“It was at this moment that I needed to change, because I knew about God and Jesus and I understood the teachings, but unlike my wife, I never really had a relationship with God.
“I had to undergo the biggest journey I’ve ever made in my life and that’s the journey from your head to your heart.
“You have to hear God and the Holy Spirit dwelling in the depths of your heart when you’re praying. If you stop and actually allow God to speak to you in your heart, allow the Holy Spirit in, things will come there.”
Following a moment of reflection with their peers, students were invited to share their own experiences of the Holy Spirit.
One student explained that last year’s lockdown took a toll on him and he felt alone and couldn’t ask anyone for help. He realised how much God had done for him and that God showed him the path to walk every day, encouraging him to keep going. “There are times when we may feel that we’re alone, but God’s always there. We should give thanks to God, because he’s not going anywhere,” he added.
Another student shared the difficulties he faced on his journey from war-torn Syria to Australia. Once he reached Australia, he began altar serving in his community which was a source of happiness for him after all the struggles and challenges. “I try every day to just be myself and be happy for the person I have become,” he said.
Savannah from Gilroy Catholic College applauded her fellow students for sharing their own stories of the Holy Spirit. “It really helped to see that everyone goes through hard things and how they found their connection with the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is really important to our faith, said Emmanuel from Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown. “It needs to be a centre point in our lives. It helps me better myself and allows me to connect with others.”
Luke Dela Cruz from CathWest Innovation College, Mt Druitt, hoped that his students were able to come out of their shells and be comfortable in exploring and sharing their faith in this space.
“Being surrounded by like-minded people, they [the students] feel empowered and safe to be able to share what they feel about the Holy Spirit and how transformative this experience can be, not only for their day to day lives, but also to try and bring that back to their respective schools.
“It’s important that we put trust in the Holy Spirit. For a lot of our students, they need something tangible, but for me as a teacher, I’m able to share my experiences of the Holy Spirit in a way that is contemporary and contextualised so they can believe, without question.”
LIFTED Live Unleashed is a collaboration between Catholic Youth Parramatta and Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta’s Mission Team.
View more images from LIFTED Live Unleashed here or below: