Living the Faith Series is a collection of stories of faith from the youth of the Archdiocese of Perth.
by Mark Espedillon
Before I start off with my testimony or perspective on the event known as ACYF (Australian Catholic Youth Festival), I’d first like to introduce myself.
As stated above my name is Mark Espedillon. I am currently a university student studying in my first year in an undergraduate course, specifically engineering at UWA. Now you may notice that the course that I am studying is incredibly logical and built upon centuries of scientific evidence. I’m emphasising this point as for most people, especially the youths of today, it can definitely be challenging in this contemporary society to maintain a devoted faith towards Catholicism. I’m certain that many people out there, including myself, have several concerns that can occasionally conflict with our faith.
Skip out on church phase
I’ve even gone through the whole “skip out on church” phase. I’ve been there. I know how it feels. However, everyone has their very own personal faith journey. Each journey either being strong and unwavering or a rocky path that can often make you feel lost. I could certainly say that I had a difficult time navigating my own faith. That was until it became invigorated by the recent Catholic events such as Veritas and ACYF. Now I’ll focus on ACYF, as it was the main event that brought back life into my faith towards God.
What ACYF brought
There was something about the atmosphere that felt charged with this amazing sort of energy. Just seeing the almost endless crowds of people, who also had similar concerns, praising and worshipping God sent shivers down my spine. I was starstruck, seeing bright lights, famous religious performers and listening to praise themed music in such a modern setting that catered towards the younger generation’s interest was a sight to behold. I can still remember the hands forming a sea of waves, shifting from side to side as everyone had their eyes glued to the stage during the performance.
Of course, not only was their electrifying entertainment, but ACYF also brought an insightful perspective to the various societal concerns aimed towards the Catholic Church. The talks or presentations on the topics of “euthanasia”, “masculinity”, “relationships” and even something as awkward as “over-sexualisation in media” were informative topics brought up as they alluded to the many issues that people face today. These types of talks were not only entertaining in their own right (there was a lot of good utilisation of comedy as well), but they presented how we, as the Catholic Community, can work together in eliminating these issues while promoting the Catholic values that we should all stand for.
The festival completely changed me
Even now, many of my friends have joked around that this festival completely changed me. After the tiring yet memorable event ended, the nights felt quiet. If I were to be honest, it resonated within the hearts of almost everyone who attended. I mean, we even had this magical moment in a local Maccas where our group and another joined together in singing worship songs. It’s also made me more actively aware of how I’m devoting myself to my faith, as well as how I can improve it. Now I’m integrating myself into more Catholic events, ones that I’ve never even attended before due to fully devoting my faith towards God only now. I can definitely say that the Australian Catholic Youth Festival brought a new and effective way of renewing the younger generation’s faith, as it did the same for me. It has strengthened my faith, my resolve to devotion and it will certainly do the same towards others. I implore any readers who haven’t attended or have doubts in the festival to look past those concerns and attend the next ACYF, as it is truly an event that cannot be missed.