After 12 months of formation, fundraising and prayers, 170 young people from Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains are on the cusp of a journey of a lifetime.
Ahead of their departure to the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, pilgrims from parishes and schools across the Diocese of Parramatta were commissioned and blessed by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, in front of family, friends and members of their parish and school communities at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Sunday 16 July.
“It is a tradition of our Diocese of Parramatta to travel to World Youth Day as it is a platform for revitalisation in the lives and faith of our young people,” Bishop Vincent said in his opening remarks.
“From our departure to our arrival back in Australia, may we be accompanied by the Spirit of God and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, may we recognise the presence of the Lord among us.”
Young people reminders of Church’s commitment to Christ
Referring to Pope Francis’ comments that young people ‘make a mess’ and ‘shake adults out of their set ways’, Bishop Vincent encouraged young people to help the Church be more responsive to the movement of the Spirit.
“The Church needs to hold itself up to the person, the message and the example of Christ,” he said.
“We need to be challenged and shaken up in order that we may be faithful, authentic and committed to our mission of being the sacrament of God’s love and the visible face of Christ in the world.
“When we operate out of Jesus’ new paradigm, faith transforms us into humble servants of the Kingdom. When the Word finds a generous response in our hearts, there is no limit to the riches of God’s love and grace that can be channelled into the world around us.”
Young people ‘signs of hope for the future’
Bishop Vincent commended the commitment and enthusiasm the young pilgrims had shown in saying ‘yes’ to World Youth Day, calling them “signs of hope for the future”.
“The Church is much richer, much more alive and dynamic with your involvement,” he said.
“We commission you to go to World Youth Day and enrich yourselves with this unique experience. Deepen your faith, invigorate your hope and widen your love. Come back with a renewed sense of purpose and mission.
“The Church needs you to be the ambassadors for Christ, or in the words of the Gospel tonight, growers of the harvest.
“By your manner of life, by the values you demonstrate and especially by the quality of your relationships, you can be the builders of the Kingdom.
“May you be filled with joy, love and hope as you go forth living, witnessing and sharing the Good News of Christ.”
Pilgrims excitedly counting down the days
Before Mass, the young pilgrims gathered in the Cathedral cloister to receive their pilgrim packs featuring the incredible Marian figure designed by the Diocesan in-house graphics team.
Ahead of their departure on Friday, pilgrims shared their joys and hopes of the experience.
Student pilgrim Louis, who was part of the team of pilgrims who lead music ministry during the Commissioning Mass, was excited to be able to share more experiences with the young people of the Diocese.
Student pilgrim Grace said, “I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet, but I’ve been counting down the sleeps and I’m super excited and so happy to be able to experience this journey with my group.”
“T-minus five days, I’m really nervous, but it feels unreal,” parish pilgrim Brandon said.
Follow our World Youth Day pilgrims as they travel in the footsteps of the saints throughout France, Spain, Portugal and Italy from home!
Sign up for our World Youth Day newsletter which will feature videos, images and stories from our pilgrims. Visit catholicoutlook.info/WYD23News. You can also stay up to date by visiting our WYD website – parrawyd.org
Family, friends, school and parish communities are warmly invited to our WYD At Home gathering on Saturday 5 August at St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong. Register today at parrawyd.org/athome
View images from the World Youth Day Commissioning Mass here or below.