ACYF 2019 has officially started! Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB welcomed pilgrims and encouraged them to bring every part of themselves to the gathering.
“You are welcome here with your questions, with your hopes, with your dreams. You are welcome here with your doubts and with your fears. You are welcome here with your hesitations and you’re welcome here with all your enthusiasms,” Archbishop Costelloe said. “God is real. Christ is alive. The Church of which you are a part is yearning to help you and to hear you, to teach you and to learn from you, to challenge you and to be challenged by you.”
We continue our daily diocesan pilgrimage coverage on Day 3 with personal reflections from Grant Withnall and Stefanie Kusters.
All for God
By Grant Withnall
Today marked the formal beginning of our pilgrimage to ACYF, the festival has begun! To kick us off we engaged in an opening plenary to set the tone of what is expected of us as participants from across Australia. We were encouraged to be present, respectful and be open to the Holy Spirit and the opportunities of spiritual growth that are offered to us.
Following the plenary, we were spoilt for choice as there were many different workshops to choose from. Personally, I attended the sessions which were most applicable to my life, this included ‘Creating Sustainable Youth Ministry’, which involved planning and maintaining a healthy and fruitful youth group community and ‘Experiencing God in Music’, which opened my eyes to the many ways music can powerfully impact how we respond to God’s call. These sessions were engaging and incredibly insightful and has inspired me with many ideas on how to cultivate and share my faith.
To close the day, we ended with a spectacular evening plenary session which focused on the Holy Spirit. We experienced a range of music styles, each inviting us to grow deeper in our relationship with God.
My highlight occurred during the Taizé chants (led my Archbishop Peter A Comensoli) where I paused to observe around me. I witnessed thousands of joy-filled young people in prayerful contemplation, pouring their hearts out in a chant that seem to fill every corner of the building. This was all for God.
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).
Rebuild my church
By Stefanie Kusters
What a day! Honestly the only word to explain today is ‘wow’. In every way – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – we were all invited to enter into a day of openness and deep encounter with God. We began the day at our accommodation with a pre-festival debrief in which everyone was buzzing with excitement and expectation.
Upon entering the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, we were bombarded with a sea of people who were all beyond hyped for the day ahead. The morning plenary began with an address and welcome from Archbishop Timothy Costello who invited us as young people to answer God’s call to rebuild the Church. In order to do so he referred to the Holy Spirit as our Head Coach, alongside whom we require other mentors, trainers and people who can journey with us.
Throughout the day there were performances by different musicians and artists, including the incredible Gus and Iggy from Wollongong! The rest of the day was filled with different workshops, talks and activities. One that stood out to me in particular was the ‘She Influences’ women’s panel. They dove into womanhood and how our identity as unique women bring diversity to the Church. They celebrated how being a woman is such a gift.
By the time it came to dinner, many of us were exhausted, but received a second wind on entering the evening plenary. We were able to dance and sing with each other, but also enter into a quiet time of prayer, and it was beautiful to see everyone taking the opportunity to be still after such an amazing and eventful day. Today went far beyond my expectations and I feel like I need a day to rest and recover! Regardless, I am looking forward to another day full of learning and surprises.
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.
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Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.