A few young people, who went together with CYM to ACYF 2017 at Sydney, share their wonderful experience in the festival.
by Siobhan Maynard
Hi, my name is Siobhan Maynard. I am a part-time youth leader and a full time drafting student. I love to play music and tell people about my Catholic faith. I also love to read fiction books (mostly fantasy) and love to watch movies (like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings) I also happen to be one of the 250 young people that travelled to Sydney from Perth for the 2017 Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF).
Sydney was an incredible experience as I have been looking forward to going since last December when I heard about it from a friend at Embrace the Grace, (a youth camp run by CYM and RLO). She seemed pretty eager to go, and although I had never heard of it, I was too.
I was so excited that I was counting down the days leading up to us flying out since I wanted to learn more about my faith and meet new people. (And also see Matt Maher and Fr Rob perform live).
The people I travelled with were both excellent and friendly. I made new friends and had the opportunity to catch up with some old ones too. The best part about touring around Sydney before the festival was getting to go on the tall ship and the submarine at the maritime museum. Despite walking around a lot it and tiring ourselves out, I felt it was completely worth it.
The festival started on Thursday, 9th December 2017 and it was astounding! Surrounded by the other 19,000 young people who attended the festival, it was very comforting to know that there are so many other young Catholics out there who share the same beliefs that I do. It makes it easier to be strong when you know you are not alone.
There were so many amazing talks which include a few of the bishops, which, to my surprise, I found to be exciting and informative. One memorable talk by Archbishop Anthony Fisher (Archbishop of Sydney), called Marriage: A Vocation and a Discernment discussed the Catholic Church’s views on marriage from the perspective of the Bible and the Catechism. Considering the recent debates regarding the subject of marriage, it was a very enlightening talk. Towards the end of the talk, a young gentleman posed a difficult question regarding the issue of same-sex marriage and where the Church stands. It was uplifting to hear that the Archbishop answered him with respect, love and intelligence while speaking the truth and didn’t compromise the church’s beliefs. That moment became my biggest highlight of the whole festival.
Adoration took place on Friday night. It was amazing and beautifully executed, with lovely music and singing, perfect lighting and a peaceful atmosphere. It struck me how amazing the silence of nineteen thousand people down in Adoration could be.
I had the privilege of learning so much about my faith, through the ACYF experience and I have so much gratitude for everyone who was involved in organising it as they did a tremendous job.
The most exciting news we received in Sydney was when Archbishop Anthony Fisher announced that Perth will be the next city to host ACYF, which will take place in December of 2019. I honestly cannot wait for 2019! “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of Joy” Psalm 47:1 Open new horizons for spreading Joy! Be the light you wish to see in the world.
by Elijah Boylen
It’s not often a bishop gets the privilege of having lunch with a 15-year-old youth, but plenty of them did at the recent Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) in Sydney. At ACYF, I encountered the bishops in a new way. I previously thought of the bishops as people who were in charge but distant from the rest of the church. I could never have been so wrong. At the festival, I saw the bishops engage with the youth, dance to the music, and even dab (if you don’t know what that means you should introduce yourself to a young person in your parish and ask them!). I also had the privilege to be chosen to attend a lunch with the bishops. Some of them are funny, and all of them were incredibly engaging.
The youth festival was also an opportunity to learn a lot about my faith. One of the biggest lessons that I learnt was from Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney. I attended his talk about marriage and afterwards there was a Q&A session. One man with same-sex attraction asked a question about the church’s stance on the marriage debate. He felt that the “no campaign” was an attack on his rights. The Archbishop’s response to this question was incredible. He answered the man in a way that affirmed the beliefs of the church, while at the same time, maintaining this man’s dignity. It was a fantastic example of how to communicate our views to those who don’t agree with them.
Music is one of my passions, and I learnt about the importance of music in the church. It draws our attention to our faith and God. It’s a type of prayer, and it can express our beliefs uniquely and beautifully.
I also discovered that we are not alone in our faith. 19,000 young people attended the festival, and when I realised that this was only a small portion of the Catholic Church in Australia, it filled me with hope. Most importantly I learnt that my faith could be fun!
I had some fantastic experiences. At the festival, I met many new people from around Australia, forged new friendships with others from Perth, as well as caught up with old friends who I had not seen for a while. However, since returning, I’ve noticed some changes in myself. I used to have trouble engaging and getting to know new people. ACYF has given me the chance to practice this, and I have been inspired to live my faith more publicly. I’ve also grown to appreciate praise and worship music even more.
I am just a typical 15-year-old boy. I enjoy music, hanging out with my mates, and eating food. I am from St. Michael the Archangel’s Mass Centre in Herne Hill and I was able to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival with nine other young people from our Midland parish, including my brother. Fr Grant Goddard, our Assistant Priest, also came with us.
ACYF was an amazing experience both faith wise and socially and it gave me the opportunity to explore a new area of Australia. In 2019, it is coming to Perth, and I would recommend for everyone to attend it.