On Friday, 18th February, Our Lady Queen of Apostles Parish in Riverton held its first 24-hour community fast to commemorate the start of the 2016 Lenten Season and reflect on what the Jubilee Year of Mercy means for the youth of the parish. The event, called FAST24, attracted more than 40 people of all ages. It was designed to help adult parishioners recognise the importance of being witnesses of our Catholic Faith to the youth of the parish through the Eucharistic Fast and Feast (Holy Mass).
On day one of the fast, the young participants got to know one another through fun games and activities. The fast started immediately after dinner which was served at 6:00pm, this was immediately followed by a moving Stations of the Cross in the church with the Parish community.
The evening continued on with an informative session about the Pallotine movement and its charism given by Patricia, who has been a Riverton parishioner for over 40 years. She also shared the rich history of the Parish, the paintings and statues on display around the compound.
Going to bed was probably the most unusual part of the day. The parish members slept in cardboard boxes to experience uncomfortable conditions that homeless people deal with around the world on a daily basis. It was a fun and slightly challenging experience, but in the end all who stayed overnight dodged the bullets and slept peacefully.
The wakeup call the next day was a difficult 5am, which was followed by a beautiful morning prayer and a walk down to the river to watch the Perth sunrise.
Next to the river, one of the youth leaders led the group to some roleplaying, discussions and fun team activities.
The rest of the day included Praise and Worship, presentations from youth leaders , more open discussions and watching documentaries.
Two special guests, Sherlyn and Sylvester, who travelled all the way from Singapore also shared with the participants their stories about their mission in the Philippines. They also gave witness to the work of their foundation called Acts 29.
A highlight for many was 45 minutes of adoration time with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The youth simply sat inside the church and shared their thoughts and prayers with God in silence.
Fast 24 was a memorable and remarkable weekend for many as it also gave the attendees an opportunity to create and design their own t-shirts. Participants were given plain white t-shirts and drew what Fast 24 meant to them. At the end each participants came up with their own masterpieces.
The fast came to an end quickly and all were starving by this point, but the young people with the youth leaders couldn’t break the fast without concluding with a mass.
All the youth members and leaders entered the church proudly wearing their masterpieces as they heard mass with the Parish community.
The overnight event and fast concluded with the much awaited dinner and fellowship, which consisted of pizza, cake and fruits from the parish garden.
The overall feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. One youth participant had this to say: “FAST24 has been such a great experience to become closer to God. I enjoyed every part of FAST24. I learned the simplest things that can help me be a better person. I loved making the t-shirts and it was a great way to display how awesome FAST24 was. I was really surprised that the fasting didn’t affect me too much, and I was able to enjoy fasting because we did it together. I would love to come back and do this again.”
Thank you to Fr Paul and the youth council for their organisation and for making it easier for the youth to fast for 24 hours.
For more information about Riverton Parish’s vibrant Post-Confirmation Youth Program (for teens aged 12-15), or the parish’s exciting new ACTS29 Youth Group (for young adults aged 18-29), contact the Our Lady Queen of Apostles Parish Office at (08) 6188 6877.
Written by Alina Biju (Youth member of Riverton Parish)