Zoom rooms traded for encounter at uplifting Diocesan youth event

By Sr Sophie Boffa, 9 March 2022
Youth gathered for the first combined LIFTED Life and The FaithFeed initiatives. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


As our masks and restrictions are lifted, so too are the youth of our Diocese, who gathered on 24 February for the first in-person gathering of LIFTED Live since the pandemic began. While the 100+ strong gathering featured the vibrant praise and worship sessions that characterise LIFTED events, a new element was added to the mix.

 The FaithFeed, an initiative of Pastoral Formation within the Mission Enhancement Team (MET) which provides a space for gathering and sharing for young adults (20-40 years old), brought a new dimension to LIFTED as presenters shared their stories of faith.

The experience of reconnection for the youth and their leaders was powerful. Smiles, elbow bumps and the occasional hug were shared, and Catholic Youth Parramatta’s Project Coordinator, Robyn Bailey, remarked that “We’ve all come from a crazy two years, we’re all able to gather in one room – and it’s not a Zoom room!”

Event faciliators Qwayne Guevara, Donnie Velasco, Robyn Bailey and Raimie Caramancion. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

The evening opened with a warm welcome from Qwayne Guevara, Manager of Catholic Youth Parramatta, and Donnie Velasco, Pastoral Formation Facilitator with MET, before launching into rousing worship led by Melbourne Catholic singer-songwriter Alyssa Agius and husband Daniel. As she shared her music, Alyssa also shared her story of faith, and the role determination has had to play in her choices. “I never really expected I would be doing this”, she said. “I’m even nervous being here tonight. When I’m out of my comfort zone, that’s where the magic happens. We all have a unique purpose that only we can fulfil.”

Alyssa Agius and husband Daniel leading the youth in praise and worship. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

The FaithFeed organisers Justine and Kester Rozario touched on these themes of determination and purpose as they explained why LIFTED and The FaithFeed were combined. “It’s about reigniting faith, energy and fire in this Diocese again”, Justine said. Kester described The FaithFeed as “a place where young adults could come together, feel welcome, have questions honoured, and hear stories that reveal the divine.”

One such story was shared by guest speaker, “proud uncle” and “casual gamer” Nathan Heffernan, who spoke of the importance of being attentive and intentional in our actions and relationships. “Jesus was concerned with the whole person, he wanted them to be in touch with their reality and what they needed”, he said. Nathan went on to explore the story of the man healed by Jesus at the pool of Bethsaida. “Jesus saw him”, he said. “This encounter asks: what wholeness are you being invited to receive?”

Kester and Justine Rozario introducing The FaithFeed. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Nathan Heffernan shares his story during The FaithFeed. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Justine and MET Pastoral Formation Facilitator Raimie Caramancion led the youth through a meaningful moment of prayer, in which they were invited to write a short prayer intention on a sheet of paper, fold it into a paper plane, and send it flying across the room to someone else who would then pray for that intention. The youth were then asked to write a simple answer to the question, “What does hope mean to you?”, with responses like “Trust”, “Opportunity”, “Aspirations of being better”, and “Knowing Jesus is there even without feeling him” being shared. The night concluded with a fantastic musical sendoff that had the entire room on its feet.

Youth spend some time in silence and prayer. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Youth at the close of the evening. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

As he finished his sharing, Nathan reminded those present: “You don’t have to have all the answers.” Our lives of physical separation, Zoom gatherings and COVID-19 restrictions have certainly put us more in touch with the unknowns of life, yet Thursday’s event reminded us of what we know: our Diocese is home to a vibrant, uplifting and faithful youth spirit, which even the events of COVID-19 have not muted.

LIFTED Live and The FaithFeed are initiatives of Catholic Youth Parramatta and the Pastoral Formation team of the Diocese of Parramatta.

View images from LIFTED Live meets The FaithFeed here or below.



Read Daily
* indicates required