Media and Communications Office
The streets of Melbourne were resplendent with joy on Sunday 24 November—and it wasn’t just from the Spring sun on full display. On the Feast of Christ the King, more than a thousand young people from all corners of Melbourne made their way into the city for a pilgrimage walk and commissioning event in the lead up to the fourth Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth (8-10 December).
The afternoon started at St Augustine’s Church on Bourke Street, with Archbishop Peter A Comensoli welcoming pilgrims and acknowledging their efforts in preparing for the journey to ACYF. "Great to see you all and great that we're gathered in such big numbers!" He then offered everyone a blessing before embarking on a walk through the city--what he called “the mini-pilgrimage before the big one”.
Towards the front of the group was the St Joseph’s Ferntree Gully marching band, leading pilgrims as they walked along Bourke Street towards St Patrick's Cathedral. Dressed in their official Melbourne ACYF t-shirts and hats, pilgrims passed by the iconic Melbourne GPO and through Bourke Street Mall, where they were joined by more musicians from the Neocatechetical Way, who then joined the back of the thousand-strong procession. The festive atmosphere was contagious, with different pilgrim groups spontaneously breaking into song, and passersby stopping in their tracks to take in the unique sense of joy on display in Melbourne’s CBD.
As the group rounded past the steps of Parliament House and into Gisborne Street, the iconic spires of St Patrick's Cathedral slowly came into view. The singing reached a crescendo as the group entered the Cathedral grounds—excitement clearly building—with some pilgrims setting foot in the Cathedral for the first time.
Archbishop Peter began the liturgy by reminding pilgrims that St Patrick’s Cathedral is home to all Melburnians. “I know each of you comes from various communities from around the Archdiocese—north, south, east, west and some from the centre of Melbourne. But, always, this is your home that you can come to.”
The Excelsis choir of Mount Waverley provided the music for the liturgy, and along with Genevieve Bryant, sang "Light to the World" as pilgrims came forward to be commissioned and receive their official pilgrim pin. The pin design is inspired by the yellow stained glass windows that adorn the Cathedral walls, which Archbishop Peter explained was a symbol of the light of Christ shining through.
Photo Credit: Brendan Nichols
“We have these very large windows in St Patrick’s with a lovely glow that comes through," Archbishop Peter explained. "The windows are made up of many diamond-shaped panes. So it is not just one window in a sense that makes up this wonderful glow... each one of us too is differently crafted—each in our own different circumstances, in our strengths and weaknesses, cracks and brokenness, and in our blessedness. Each one of us is unique. Each one of us is shining.
In a sense, we become prisms of a higher deeper light—of God’s light. We glow with God. Glow, my young friends! You glow with the light of Christ, and I want you to glow brightly and shine out for others.”
Following the liturgy, the celebrations continued outside as pilgrims sprawled onto the Cathedral grounds for a BBQ and concert with music from local artists including Alyssa Agius and Georga Byrne of The Saga Music, Luke Batterbury, Genevieve Bryant and Josh Angrisano.