Last year, more than 1,000 young Melburnians travelled thousands of kilometres to Perth to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. Next week, pilgrims under lockdown in Melbourne will gather online for a reunion special to reunite with fellow pilgrims and reminisce and celebrate the highlights of ACYF.
Speaking at the event will be Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli and Fr Rob Galea with live music from Gen Bryant and Josh Angrisano.
‘ACYF was a game-changer,’ recalls Laura Mason, a teacher at Catholic Regional College Caroline Springs, who accompanied a group of pilgrims to ACYF.
‘It really took me by surprise how many active young Catholics we have among us and how we really need to foster and encourage our youth to continue the work of our Lord.’
‘My fondest memories was seeing the young people of our group become excited about our faith. I must say at times it was contiguous. I felt that as a whole group we grew together, in unity, into our faith. I was so privileged to witness this growth in our young people.’
‘I remember having conversations with people, who in everyday circumstances, I would not have the chance to have, like nuns and priests from different orders. It was so humbling to meet these extraordinary people and have very real and truthful conversations.’
For Josh, a student from CRC Caroline Springs, a standout moment from ACYF was the Go Make a Difference program by Steve Angrisano. ‘He talked about the many challenges in his life, and how grateful he was to be on the stage sharing his story,’ Josh says.
‘I also enjoyed listening to a variety of performers, such as Gus & Iggy and The Saga.’
He particularly enjoyed the plenaries. ‘They were engaging and light-hearted, but they could also be reflective and meditative during adoration and the Mass. It was a communal space where all were welcome to come together and to celebrate the faith.’
‘It taught me to be open to new experiences, especially if they mean questioning and deepening your faith.’
Janine, another student from CRC Caroline Springs, remembers being challenged in her views on the Church, the Catholic community, and what it means to be a Catholic pilgrim.
‘I felt a real sense of belonging with the people around me. I was aware that I wasn’t the only one trying to question my faith but there were people around me experiencing the same things as I was. I realised I was part of a wider community.’
‘My fondest memories are of the plenaries, Masses, adoration, workshops, performances, and praise and worship sessions,’ she says. ‘I’m grateful for the experience with so many pilgrims from all around Australia. I also became closer to my friends, teachers, and the new friends I made who I still talk to.’
‘I came back a different person, more curious in my faith, and more open to listening to other’s journeys. This has helped me get closer to the relationship of my faith with God and stay strong in my faith journey.’
The ACYF Lockdown Special will be a chance to celebrate memories of ACYF 2019 and show how God is close whether we’re surrounded by thousands of other young people at ACYF, or in the ‘ordinariness’ of our own homes during this time of lockdown.
The ACYF Lockdown Special will be held on Wednesday 12 August, 5-6pm.
Join us through the ACYF Facebook page or via
our YouTube Channel. And
after you’ve attended the Lockdown Special, you might like to gather with your
ACYF pilgrim group on Zoom.