If you were walking anywhere in the vicinity of Santa Maria College in Attadale this morning you would have heard the joy filled singing and music of the Ignite Band. They were leading the youth at this year’s Veritas festival in a final Praise and Worship session. David, 19, from St Pius X parish in Manning found the Praise and Worship sessions throughout this weekend spiritually uplifting. Having never attended an event with this many young Catholics before, David found strength in the bond between the participants at Veritas. As summarised in artistic poetry verse, Michael, 18 from Our Lady Queen of Peace parish, Willagee said, “My feet are sore, my joints are broke, I’m exhausted through and through. But my hearts on fire, I believe in God, and that’s the holy truth.”
With the conclusion of Praise and Worship, Anita Parker, Director of Catholic Youth Ministry Perth, presented a final group talk on #bemerciful. Anita provided a beautiful summary on ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy’ (Matt 5:7), the theme for the weekend. The importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in allowing ourselves to grow in mercy first, so that we may then be equipped to show mercy to others was highlighted. Anita then went on to discuss how we can take this message of mercy with us into the world. Community and prayer were the two suggestions put forth to enable us to sustain our counter-cultural views once we leave Veritas. Anita then informed and challenged all those gathered to respond to the Pope’s call for youth to actively participate in one spiritual and one corporal work of mercy for the next seven months. With the guidance of Anita, the Divine Mercy Chaplet was prayed and the beauty and power of prayer was, I have no doubt, felt by all.
A final session of workshops was held and Jess, 16 from St Thomas Moore parish in Bateman reflected on these sessions throughout the festival. Jess really enjoyed the workshops she attended and found they were all extremely applicable and relevant to her life’s faith journey. Katie, 20 from St Francis Xavier parish in Armadale commented on the spiritual impact of the weekend. Katie felt her faith had definitely been strengthened and she felt closer to God with this weekend allowing time for personal reflection.
A Mass, including the commissioning of Youth Leaders in our diocese provided a fitting conclusion to the joy and mercy all had experienced this weekend. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB directed all those gathered in a reflective and thought provoking celebration of the Eucharist. The Archbishop issued an invitation for all to become committed and enthusiastic sharers of the faith, to begin to transform the face of our Church. That through the grace of God working in and through us, we may respond to create the Church that God has intended; to return Jesus to the centre of our Church. An emphasis was placed on the need for all Catholics to be authentic witnesses to Christ, so that those who encounter us may encounter the true Church.
We need to ask ourselves if what we say we believe is consistent with our actions, with what we do as members of the Catholic Church. By asking ourselves some questions we may be able to better assess the connection between our words and our actions. These questions provided by His Grace include; what place does Jesus really hold in my life and my heart? How deep does my openness to Him really go? How ready am I to let Him be the friend to me that he so desperately wants to be? Jesus said ‘I am the way’ but is He really my way? Jesus said ‘I am the truth’ but how much do I base my life, my decisions, my dreams and my goals on the teachings, the values and the beatitudes of mind and heart that Jesus shares with us in the Gospel? Jesus says ‘I am the life’ but how eager and how ready am I to let Him unite Himself with me – especially through the gift of the Eucharist?
The Archbishop goes onto explain the answers we give to these questions have the power to shape our lives. God has given to each one of us the unique gift of our own life and He wants us to take hold of this gift with both hands and make the most of it. Jesus shows us exactly how to do this.
The Archbishop reflected on the knocking many of the Veritas participants may have felt in their hearts this weekend. His Grace invited us to open that door so that Jesus may come in, sit with us, shared His love and friendship with us and walk with us so that we are not alone. So that we need no longer feel afraid, as we will be walking on the pathway to wholeness and to life, life lived to the full. As Saint Pope John Paul II concluded in his first homily as Pope, and as the Archbishop now makes his own, “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept His power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ, and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of humanity. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ. Do not be afraid. Christ knows what is within us. He alone knows it. Let Christ speak to you. He alone has the words of life.”
Written by Sarah Hicks (Official Journo for Veritas Youth Festival)
Sarah Hicks is 23 years old. She is a Masters student at The University of Notre Dame studying Primary School Teaching. She loves baking, spending too much time in the bathroom and travelling. Her dislike of practical jokes and the word ‘moist’ does make for some hilarious situations. However she is very generous with her time and loves to make others smile.