Youth and Young Adults

ACYF Perth 2019 | Day 5

December 14, 2019

The open-air Mass at Trinity College Perth was the culmination of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, which attracted 5,500 young people from across the country.

In his homily at the Mass, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on the number of questions Jesus asks – and is asked – in the Gospels. In particular, he reflected on the question from someone introduced in the Bible as a rich young man. In the Gospels, the man asks Jesus: “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Archbishop Costelloe reminded pilgrims that the young man could respond affirmatively to the requirement of having obeyed the commandments, but was more challenged by Jesus’ invitation to “sell all you own and give the money to the poor and then come and follow me”.

”What a challenge this young man is presented with. What an opportunity for generosity and for heroism,” Archbishop Costelloe said. “But then comes what I think is one of the saddest sentences in the Gospels: ‘When the young man heard these words, he turned away and went away sad because he was a person of great wealth’.”

While the rest of the man’s story is not told in the Gospels, Archbishop Costelloe said the question is one all Christians are called to consider and pray about. “The key line in the story, of course, in the answer Jesus gives to the rich young man is this – and it will be the key line in whatever answer Jesus gives to you: ‘Come and follow me’. So don’t walk away sad from the opportunity Jesus holds out to you for an heroic life.

We hear from Stefanie and Grant one final time as we conclude the last day of the pilgrimage. Thank you for praying and journeying with us!

Simply life-changing

by Stefanie Kusters

Today and really the whole festival experience has far exceeded my expectations! I think I can safely say that every pilgrim has experienced so much growth and have felt the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. Our final festival day had a slow and relaxing start as we did not have a morning plenary session to attend. Once we arrived at the convention centre I attended a talk by the famous MGL Sisters: Therese and Judy, about living with amazing Grace when life feels like the Amazing Race. Having watched the show, I had some understanding of what the sisters were like and it was beautiful to hear them share their experience. Each day has felt very “go-go-go”, in a good way, and so I wanted to take the opportunity for some quiet time in prayer. I made my way up to the Adoration chapel – a humble prayer space and it was good to finally be still and truly listen.

Later in the day I attended a talk entitled ‘Christ is Alive’ by a brilliant American speaker, Katie Prejean McGrady. She began by stating, ‘The only way we can know who we are, is to know whose we are’, and that we are called to know that Christ is present in every moment of our lives. Katie encouraged us to enter into a radical and loving trust in the Lord. I noticed these themes of trust and presence continually highlighted, throughout the festival.

It then came time to embark on our pilgrimage walk, at a scorching 36°C, the only saving grace was the breeze. Arriving at Trinity College, the venue for our closing Mass, we found a spot out on the grass, lined up for what felt like forever for food and watched the sun slowly set. The Mass itself was really beautiful. Every now and then a flock of birds would fly past and there was something so special about celebrating Mass outside. Following Mass we partied together one last time, dancing alongside Bishop Brian and somehow finding Joel in the splits, proving once again that Wollongong knows how to party and how to pray.

Farewells were sad because it meant that our pilgrimage was over but we are all looking forward to catching up and reconnecting once we are back home. This surreal experience of ACYF flew by and I am so incredibly grateful for every opportunity, encounter and interaction. A simply life-changing and unforgettable trip!

Stefanie is a past student of St Mary Star of the Sea College Wollongong and is commencing her third year of Law and International Studies at the University of Wollongong. She is a parishioner at St John Vianney Co-Cathedral Fairy Meadow.

The Summit

by Grant Withnall

Something about ACYF hits you on the last day. You’re exhausted, but full of energy, you’re in pain, but you push through, you’re ready to go home, but you never want to leave.

Although this day didn’t start with a morning plenary session, there were many other workshops that pilgrims could attend. The workshops I attended focused around themes of self-growth through embracing Catholic teaching on morality. In summary, our true purpose and happiness is fully realised when we align our will with God’s will.

Alongside the workshops, most of the Wollongong group attended the second performance set by local musicians and leaders Seth Harsh and Fiesita Mataele. Sounds of Wollongong voices and praise could be heard echoing throughout the entire building!

After lunch, we embarked on the final leg of our ACYF pilgrimage towards Trinity College where the final Mass would be held. We walked from the convention centre, through the city of Perth, passing magnificent sculptures and scenic views of the water. This 3.3km pilgrimage was long (and hot) but completely worth it.

It was surreal to be a part of a group of thousands of young people, alongside bishops and priests from all over Australia, in celebration of the source and summit of our faith, the Mass.

I experienced a lot of profound moments at ACYF, which I hope will stay with me long after I leave. It is my prayer that I will be able to share these experiences with others and they will continue to form my identity as a child of God. I am Catholic and this is my faith!

Grant Withnall is a past student of Mount Carmel Catholic College Varroville and is studying Information Communication and Technology at the University of Western Sydney. He is also a youth leader at ‘Live Local’ (a diocesan youth group in the Macarthur area).

Photos by Jeremy Yuen and *Elyza Edeline Gomez

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