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Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017

18 December 2017

Stories from the Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017 will appear below as they come in.....

From Marie Shaddock, Group Leader - Sunraysia Parishes:

If you could watch it on television without the sound on you would say it was going to get ugly. You might think they were fans of an angry soccer team and be expecting rubbish bins tipped over and the like, as 18,000 young people poured out onto the streets around the Sydney Showgrounds at the ACYF, fists punching the air, obviously yelling and screaming. But turn on the sound and you would discover this massive sea of youth chanting “Jesus!! – Who’s the best? Jesus!!” as they flooded down the streets onto trains and buses.  There were no drugs or alcohol involved, simply Spirit and it could not be contained.

What an amazing three days! 18,000 young people exploring their faith in the midst of so many of their contemporaries, and loving it.  Who wouldn’t?  The electric atmosphere of the plenaries where musicians captured not only the audience but incorporated their vivacity, energy and joy.  The openness and friendliness of the Bishops who put themselves and the Church on the line, freely discussing the deep and often darker issues of our world with open frankness.  Keynote speakers covered topics from Ecology to Same Sex Attraction, to How to Pray in Tough times.  Musicians who shared their faith, and life stories so compellingly, because of their genuine passion and love of our faith.  In the midst of all this Masses were being said, Eucharistic Adoration was taking place and young people were standing in the hot sun patiently queueing for confession.

None of this would have happened had it not been for the Bishops who conceived and then supported this great event.  It is because of their courage and commitment that this has happened.  We can be proud to be Catholics, even today, and we can be very proud of our Bishops.  As one young man said to me “I can see why you come back – it is just so good!"

Highlights of the three days were the plenaries with the music of Matt Maher,ACYF 2017 Steve Angrisano and Fr Rob Galea getting everyone, Bishops and Archbishops included, dancing in their seats with beach balls flying through the air.  Sr Hilda’s command of the young was incredible as were her talks on prayer and her often heart wrenching interviews in “Hangin’ with Hilda”.  Particularly powerful was on the Friday night when Archbishop Prowse challenged and charged all those present in his address, and 18,000 people stood in a dark stadium with the modern-day candles of their phones alight while they reconsecrated themselves to Christ. And the silent wonder of Eucharistic Adoration where the beating heart of Jesus held everyone transfixed.

The fitting and concluding highlight was the open-air Mass in the Domain, which on its own was a spectacular masterpiece ending in an unexpected firework display which really capped off the whole experience.  Archbishop Fisher summed it up in words borrowed from Winston Churchill, “This isn’t the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning!”  To be continued . . . in Perth 2019! 

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We are the Catholic Church in the Ballarat Diocese
we gather in the name of Jesus from the Murray to the sea
in interwoven faith communities. Spirit filled
we celebrate and share our journey
reaching out to nurture all God's people.

Diocesan Vision Statement 2005

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