Posted on 27 July 2016
World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney changed the landscape of youth ministry nationally, the Australian bishops said yesterday during a national gathering of Australian pilgrims currently participating in World Youth Day (WYD) events in Krakow, Poland.
The bishops joined more than 3000 young people at an Australian gathering that included a launch of the Year of Youth, building on the legacy of World Youth Day Sydney (WYD08).
The Year of Youth will celebrate the 10th anniversary of WYD08 and highlight how the Australian Church continues to tell the story of the event in its local ministry.
Bishop Mark Edwards OMI, an Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne and the Bishops Delegate for Youth, was an MC at the Krakow gathering. “The years of preparation leading up to WYD08 and its events have changed the landscape of youth ministry, leaving a lasting impression on the Church. Local youth ministries have grown and diversified. The number of youth ministers has increased along with diocesan support structures.”
Speaking during a press conference after the gathering, Malcolm Hart, Director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Office for Youth, said the Year of Youth will utilise the anniversary of WYD08 to highlight the impact a concerted effort and focus on young people can have in the life of the Church.
“The bishops have established a three-year cycle of events to support and sustain youth ministry into the future,” Malcolm said. “This includes: support and participation in World Youth Days, the engagement of a new generation of young Catholics through the Australian Catholic Youth Festival and increased training and formation of those working with young people through the Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention.”
Following WYD08, the bishops established the Australian Catholic Youth Council as a strategic advisory body and created an Office for Youth to implement the bishops’ vision for youth ministry, Anointed and Sent.
Commencing the Year of Youth in Sydney, the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in December 2017 will be the largest national gathering of the Catholic Church in Australia with an expected attendance of 15,000.
Bishop Edwards said the challenge for a WYD host city was how to make the event fruitful 10 years on. “Australia could well be one of the countries that has leveraged WYD in their own country to the greatest potential,” he said.
‘The anniversary of WYD08 provides an opportunity to refocus our commitment to a three-year cycle of events, setting a new standard for continuously renewing the Church’s mission of evangelisation in young people.”
Half of all Australia’s bishops attended the gathering with special guest His Excellency Paul Wojciechowski, Australia’s Ambassador to Poland. Hosted at the Mercy Centre in Tauron Arena, Krakow, the theme of the two-hour gathering was Blessed are the Merciful, with music, catechesis and testimonials reflecting this theme.
Highlights included an inspiring call to action from Bishop Peter Comensoli (Broken Bay), an insight into Polish and Australian Spirituality by Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green (Wilcannia-Forbes), a homily given by Bishop Patrick O’Regan (Sale) and music by Victorian priest Fr Rob Galea.
The prayer of the faithful was in five languages, representing the multicultural nature of the Church in Australia.
Bishops Edwards concluded that, “during the Year of Youth, it is crucial the Church engages with young people”.