Young Catholics from near and far across the Melbourne Archdiocese arrived with a sense of curiosity and joy on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral on the eve of the fourth Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth.
Anticipation filled the air as we spoke to some of the students attending from St Aloysius College in North Melbourne about what they were looking forward to most.
Experiencing faith in a group and grow deeper in my faith,’ said Molly who was simultaneously nervous about this first time experience at a large-scale Catholic event.
I'm actually looking forward to discovering my faith,’ Ola added.
The Broadmeadows Parish of St Dominic’s attracted a group of youths who were new to the ACYF experience and we also spoke to more students across various Catholic girls’ schools in Melbourne.
I'm looking forward to the forums about social justice issues and how we can take the next step in our faith,’ said Grace from Academy of Mary Immaculate while catching up with friends from other schools such as Catherine from Sacred Heart who said she’s looking forward to meeting other people and ‘seeing their point of view’ and Anna who was keen to meet other people of the same age with the same Catholic point of view which can be difficult ‘even in a Catholic school.’
The girls from CRC Melton felt similarly.
I'm looking forward to most of the rallies, the workshops and the music,’ said Molly who went to a conference last year that she enjoyed so much that she felt compelled to join the pilgrims at ACYF.
In his opening words to pilgrims, Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli expressed his joy at seeing the young heart of Melbourne gathered in Perth.
It's great that we are here in this lovely Cathedral here in Perth at the beginning of our pilgrimage. It does my heart good to see us all here! And I hope it does your heart good too, to see the young Church of Melbourne gathered in this way.
Concelebrating the Mass were Bishops Terry Curtin and Mark Edwards, along with a number of priests from the Archdiocese who have travelled to Perth with their local youth groups. Leading music was Alyssa Agius and musicians from the Good Shepherd's at Gladstone Park, the group singing psalms and sweet harmonies as the congregation sang along.
In his homily, Bishop Mark asked pilgrims to think of one thing that they would like to ask from God during their pilgrimage. He also offered them some advice for their time at the festival:
2. Be involved.
3. Be honest and vulnerable.
I've come to Perth to encounter Jesus. Let him touch your hearts. Listen to what the Spirit is saying. Bear fruit!
Follow the journey online via the official Melbourne ACYF Facebook page (@Melbourne ACYF) and on Instagram (@melbacyf).