“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
“It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” – St. Pope John Paul II.
With the encouragement of St John Paul II, champion of youth and in line with National Vocation Awareness Week in August 2019, Catholic Youth Parramatta announced an opportunity to glimpse the life of consecrated women across the Diocese of Parramatta.
The “Convent Crawl”, a day long journey visiting four Religious communities across the Diocese, received great support from local religious communities and young women.
Fourteen women gathered on Saturday 7 September at 6am outside the Tyburn Priory at Riverstone for their briefing, before joining the sisters for Morning Prayer and Mass. Following prayers, the sisters invited the women to their library for tea, coffee and sandwiches. Mother Marie Pierre welcomed the women to the convent and shared about life as a contemplative nun in community.
The women then jumped on a bus, driven by Rosie Drum mgl, Assistant Director, Catholic Youth Parramatta, to the Missionaries of God’s Love Sisters Mission House in Quakers Hill. Here, the women joined the sisters for breakfast and were invited into their lounge room for a Q&A session. The sisters led the women to their chapel for praise and worship before the Blessed Sacrament.
By midday, the women headed to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Marayong. Before lunch, Sr Cristina gave the women a tour of the Our Lady of Częstochowa War Memorial Chapel, the Holy Family Services Aged Care facility and convent. The women were able to spend time meeting residents and spend short periods of time in prayer in each of the chapels. After a Q&A session over lunch, the women were brought to the chapel of the convent where the women were led in reflection.
The final stop of the journey was Mulgoa. The young women were warmly welcomed by the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary for dinner and night prayer and reflection at the pilgrimage site – the Mount Schoenstatt Shrine. After sharing about the history of their congregation, the sisters shared their own vocation stories and invited the women to pray for vocations to the Church.
At the end of the night, the young women continued their conversations in the bus as they travelled back to Riverstone for the final departure home at 9pm.
One women said “I never thought it was something I had been looking for and had been needing! I had lots of questions answered in just one day.”
Another young woman explained that “the Convent Crawl helped me to be a little bit braver to be open to religious life as a possible reality for me. While I still don’t know the very end of this journey, the next step for me is now much clearer.”
Vocation and Discernment is a focus area of Anointed and Sent: An Australian vision for Catholic youth ministry, which is promoted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Catholic Youth Parramatta hopes that the experience of the Convent Crawl provides a foundation for future initiatives that seek to strengthen a culture of vocation and discernment in young people across the Diocese.