Australian Catholic Youth Festival brings hope for young Catholics

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Australian Catholic Youth Festival brings hope for young Catholics

Culminating in the largest Catholic Mass in Australia since World Youth Day 2008, the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) saw almost 20,000 young people gather in Sydney for three days of celebrating and growing deeper in their Catholic faith.

Held from December 7-9, the festival officially began the Year of Youth and attracted young people from around Australia, including more than 100 pilgrims from Tasmania.

Director of Youth Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Hobart Tomasz Juszczak helped lead the Tasmanian pilgrimage and said that the young people who travelled to Sydney had received enormously from the experience.

“Without a doubt the best thing has been seeing how much the Tassie guys have gotten out of it,” Mr Juszczak said.

“I asked them how they're going and they're all like, 'This is awesome, this is fantastic, I love it, I want to change this part of my life',” he said.

For 15-year-old Paris from Mount Carmel Catholic College, the opening and closing plenary sessions, which featured a mixture of prayer, singing and preaching, were a highlight.

“We got a lot of time to reflect and in the closing plenary, we read out a prayer and then we had 20 minutes of praying – it was really eye opening,” she said.

Xavier Direen, 20, from Hobart says the number of young people who attended ACYF was “really inspiring”.

“Especially in Australia – because Australia's not the most Christian country in the world. This is the biggest, the absolutely biggest event I've ever been to,” Xavier said.

“It just gives me a bit more hope, to be honest. A bit more hope for the Church than I had.”

Mr Juszczak says ACYF has shown the Tasmanian pilgrims that they are not alone in their Catholic faith.

“It’s clear they’ve received fire in their hearts at this festival and if they go with that fire back into their communities, if they’re supported and nurtured enough, they’ll evangelise: they’ll evangelise through their joy,” he said.

The festival ended with a pilgrimage from the tomb of St Mary of the Cross, across the Harbour Bridge to the Domain, where a final Mass was celebrated, attended by approximately 15,000 people.