Catholic Outlook

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Youth camp experience enriches our faith

Campers were challenged intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
Campers were challenged intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

By Madonna Eskaner, Catholic Outlook, September 2012

STOP, REVIVE, SURVIVE was the theme for this year’s Youth and Young Adults Diocesan Camp, and that is exactly what we did!

The venue was The Tops Conference Centre at Stanwell Tops. As we arrived, I wondered what God would reveal to us and how He would go about doing it.

With music blasting in the background we quickly set up for the evening program. When all had arrived and settled in we kicked off with a moving talk by Fr Suresh on the theme, ‘Be still and know that I am God’.

As Fr Suresh shared his wisdom and experience of God with us, we came to learn that there are two basic rules in life. No. 1: There is a God! And No. 2: We are not Him!

Fr Suresh reassured us that God has a purpose for our lives and even though we feel unable to do so; God chooses the weak to be set out on a mission.

Fr Suresh equipped us well for the camp and for living out its theme as he advised us that if we put our lives in God’s hands, we will begin to flourish. 

The next day we began with a delicious breakfast and an interesting educational talk by the Executive Director of Schools, Greg Whitby, on ‘Theology meets Technology’ – ‘Follow me and not just on Twitter’.

We discovered how the ancient Church of Christ is coming into the technological world and beginning to utilise these advancements to evangelise. 

Greg explained that 2000 years of doctrine and discipline doesn’t need to be separated from the use of technology, but can be enhanced to reach the entire world if used appropriately.

Guest speakers Peter Holmes, Jessica Langrell and the Allure Workshop Team arrived at the camp to share with us the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality.

With girls and boys separated into different rooms, the young people were attentive to our speakers while learning about the dignity of the person and how we are all created in the image and likeness of God.

All comprehended that the relationship between man and woman was created to reveal the greater mystery of God and His bride, the Church.

Later that day, Larissa O’Calaghan and Nicholas Weir give the most heartfelt faith testimonies I have ever heard. They shared with us about God’s healing power in their lives and how He continues to work through them. 

During these testimonies the room was spellbound and many tears were shed as we felt Christ Himself was speaking straight to us.

In the evening we prayed the rosary in various languages, went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then adored Christ in the Eucharist. How amazing is our God that He humbles Himself every day in the appearance of bread, veiling His glory so that we can freely choose Him. This prepared us well for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Afterwards we enjoyed dinner and expressed our creativity and shared laughs over a cultural program. We then enjoyed a night of dancing and settled down to watch The Human Experience.

The next day Sr Maria Kolbe OP gave a talk on ‘Jesus the Lifeguard’.  As she shared experiences with us we were challenged intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

As Sr Maria spoke about the virtue of selflessness and shifting our focus on to Christ she set us up for our next experience at the camp … our walk on the beach.

In groups of three we walked along the beach, shared our experiences and arrived back in time for Mass celebrated by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP.

I am quite sure that many lives have been changed over this weekend.  God’s hand was and still is working in the lives of these young people. 

Many new friendships were formed and old friendships were enriched as he Holy Spirit binds us together for greater and more challenging missions.

Madonna Eskander is Diocesan Youth Ministry Officer.

Parramatta to WYD Rio pilgrimage in 2013

with Harvest World Youth Day Tours

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP
Invitation from Bishop Anthony

In July 2013, millions of young people will descend on Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to join Pope Benedict for World Youth Day.  Having organised Sydney’s I know what great things WYD can do. It brings people’s faith to life, it enlarges their sense of belonging to the Church, it sets them free to love and give themselves to the adventure of the Gospel. Hearts are awakened. Ideals are strengthened. Vocations blossom. Pray for our next cohort of pilgrims and their leaders.

Join me in Brazil!

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP

PAR01: Iguazu and WYD Rio

Bishop Michael Kennedy
Bishop Michael Kennedy

Accompanied by Bishop Michael Kennedy, Diocese of Armidale

Indicative cost per person: $4950. Tour code: PAR01

14-day pilgrimage departing Thursday 18 July 2013

Journey to amazing Argentina and along the missionary trail to the awe-inspired Iguazu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Here we will gather and prepare together before joining the youth of the world in Rio de Janeiro in the company of Pope Benedict XVI.

Featuring: Buenos Aires (1), Iguazu Falls (3), Jesuit Missions, WYD Week in Rio de Janeiro (8), Stay in Rio at ‘Aussie Central’ lodging facilities by the Pier.

Eligibility criteria: This pilgrimage is open to all applicants aged between 18-35 years of age, subject to standard group eligibility criteria.

Jesuit Mission

PAR02: Lima, Iguazu and WYD Rio

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP
Bishop Anthony Fisher OP

Accompanied by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Diocese of Parramatta

Indicative cost per person: $5850. Tour code: PAR02

19-day pilgrimage departing Saturday 13 July 2013

Be prepared for a powerful immersion experience in Peru’s capital as we follow in the footsteps of Saints like Martin de Porres and Rose of Lima. Enter into the rubble of the shanty towns and discover a surprising joy and faith amidst a resilient people that will profoundly inspire our way.

Assemble together at the mighty Iguazu Falls to prepare for an epic WYD week encounter in the company of Pope Benedict XVI and the world’s youth from every tribe and nation.

Featuring: Lima Pilgrimage and Mission (5), Iguazu Falls (3), Jesuit Missions, WYD Week in Rio de Janeiro (8), Stay in Rio at ‘Aussie Central’ lodging facilities by the Pier.

Eligibility criteria: This pilgrimage is open to all applicants aged between 16-35 years of age, subject to standard group eligibility criteria.


PAR03: Mexico, Iguazu and WYD Rio

Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett
Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett

Accompanied by Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, Diocese of Lismore

Indicative cost per person: $6950. Tour code: PAR03

20-day pilgrimage departing Friday 12 July 2013

Embark on an amazing faith journey into the spiritual heart of Mexico and the great world shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Feel the blessing of Mary as we take flight to the thundering Iguazu Falls for a time of inspired preparation together. Then join with the millions of pilgrims worldwide converging on Rio de Janeiro for a WYD week of mind-blowing proportions.

Featuring: Mexico City (3), Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Teotihuacan Pyramids, Puebla (1), Iguazu Falls (3), Jesuit Missions, WYD Week in Rio de Janeiro (8) Stay in Rio at ‘Aussie Central’ lodging facilities by the Pier.

Eligibility criteria: This pilgrimage is open to all applicants aged between 18-35 years of age, subject to standard group eligibility criteria.

overlooking Rio

Harvest WYD Tours
WYD 2013 Rio logo

Register for one of the Parramatta to Rio pilgrimages

  With Harvest WYD Tours:  

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Shop till you drop to raise funds for WYD

By Virginia Knight, Catholic Outlook, September 2012

In the lead-up to WYD Rio in 2013, our Parramatta pilgrims have the choice of joining one of three pilgrimages en route to Rio de Janeiro via Mexico, Lima and Iguazu.

All three groups will gather at the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.    

Accompanying the pilgrims will be Armidale’s Bishop Michael Kennedy (Iguazu and Rio); Lismore’s Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett (Mexico, Iguazu and Rio) and our own Bishop Anthony Fisher OP (Lima, Iguazu and Rio).

To mark our pilgrimage to the city of Lima, the Diocese has identified the poorest of the poor and will be trying to reach out to them by helping them with new houses. The houses will be built prior to our visit to Lima and handed over to the people during our pilgrimage.

World Youth Day is all about sharing our faith and making God's love tangible. This is a great opportunity to gain a sense of sharing and commitment with the poor of Peru – $2000 will give them a house to live in.

Assisting to fund this worthwhile project, the Diocese of Parramatta is donating all funds raised from its annual fundraiser, the Diocesan Shopping Trip, to be held on Saturday 17 November 2012.

We will visit factory outlets across Sydney, shopping for bargains and earning a fundraising commission on all sales. Not only is the shopping trip a good fundraiser, but it brings together many people from across our Diocese in a social capacity.

The trip includes a lovely bistro lunch and all coach transfers between venues. Whether you ‘shop till you drop’ or just window shop, the conversation continues to amass as fast as the bargains.

In a new exciting twist, for the first time this year those who cannot attend the trip on the day can still shop online in the weeks leading up to Christmas and earn a fundraising commission of 5% on their purchases simply by selecting the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta as their preferred charity.

However, there is nothing like being part of the fun on the day. Tickets are $50 per person for adults; $40 for seniors & students; and $20 for children (5-17 years). This year we hope to once again have at least three coaches departing from Penrith, Seven Hills and Parramatta.

To place your individual or group booking, please contact Virginia Knight tel (02) 8838 3412,

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