Media and Communications Office
During Solemn Mass in a packed St Patrick’s Cathedral Sunday, Melbourne’s Archbishop Denis Hart blessed and commissioned several hundred young Victorian pilgrims, as they prepared to join tens of thousands of other young people in Sydney this week for the official launch of the Year of Youth.
The cathedral was awash in blue t-shirts as the Archbishop ended the Mass by imparting his solemn blessing on the assembled pilgrims and Year of Youth Ambassadors.
The Australian Bishops have declared the year beginning on the first Sunday of Advent (3 December 2017), as a national Year of Youth. The Year of Youth invites the church into dialogue about the importance and life-giving presence of young people in the Church and society. It calls for dialogue and active engagement focused on the reconnection and renewal of a new generation of young people in the life of the Church.
L-R: Bishop Mark Edwards with Mass attendees, the commissioning Mass, Archbishop Hart celebrating Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral, and ACYF attendees.
Annaliese Ros from the Archdiocesan Office for Youth told Archbishop Hart that ‘We have each made a decision to be ambassadors for this upcoming Year of Youth and many of us will be going on pilgrimage to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. We come from many different parishes, schools and communities across Melbourne, and we join with young Catholics from all over Australia. It is with joy that I present to you, Your Grace, the Melbourne Archdiocesan Year of Youth Ambassadors and Australian Catholic Youth Festival pilgrims for commissioning.’
Bishop Mark Edwards and Archbishop Hart with ACYF pilgrims.
The Archbishop replied, ‘Brothers and sisters, as you set out, remind yourselves of the reasons for your resolve to go on this pilgrimage and to be ambassadors for the Year of Youth. You are undertaking a pilgrimage in faith and will experience the love of God when you gather with Bishops and other young people in Sydney.
‘As pilgrims to Sydney, you go to follow the lead of the great witnesses of the past and present. You go to witness the great love of God and the example of Christ Jesus. You go to experience the work of the Holy Spirit in your lives. You go to enjoy encounters with Christ and his Holy Spirit in the Church, the Sacraments and the Saints. You go with a desire to celebrate your faith with the young people of Australia, and you go with a desire to open new horizons to spread joy.’
He asked those assembled if this was indeed their intention, to which the ACYF pilgrims and ambassadors all loudly acclaimed, ‘It is!’
Whereupon the Archbishop responded, ‘Young people, you are an important part of our faith community and we appreciate the gifts and talents God has gifted you with. During this Year of Youth the Holy Father Pope Francis will be hosting a Synod on young people with the focus of ‘Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment’. As we pray a blessing and the prayer for the Year of Youth, may this year inspire you to grow in your faith and to be supported by our local faith community to experience the joy that God has to offer you.’
In imparting his blessing, Archbishop Hart concluded the Commissioning Mass by praying:
‘Lord, bless these young people on the commencement of the Year of Youth. Together may we ‘Open New Horizons for spreading joy’, the joy of the Gospel and the joy of our faith. As we commence the season of Advent may the joy of Christ be a witness in their lives. May God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, sustain you in your will; strengthen you in your doubts and be praised by you in your joys. We make this prayer through Christ, our Lord.’
More information and details on the 2017-2018 Year of Youth may be found here.