Penrith Youth Mass: Alive Again in Christ
By Fr Suresh Kumar MSFS, Diocesan Youth Director
The theme ‘Alive Again in Christ’ was made tangible when the young people came together with their shepherd, Bishop Anthony, for a Youth Mass at St Nicholas of Myra Church in Penrith on 10 October.
The Mass was organised by the youth of the parish under the leadership of Fr Chris De Souza, their parish priest.
The evening began with Adoration and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and a number of young people availed themselves of this wonderful opportunity to ‘take the load off’ their hearts.
The presence of Christ amidst us gave the consolation that we are accepted back into the family of God when we turn back to Him with contrition.
The Eucharistic celebration began with the melodious singing of the youth choir. Bishop Anthony was the principal celebrant at the Mass, which was concelebrated by priests of the Diocese.
In his homily, Bishop Anthony spoke on the meaning of Eucharist as thanksgiving. He connected the Gospel message on the theme of thanksgiving by the Samaritan leper.
After the Mass everyone gathered in the hall for a light supper. There were varieties of food spread out well. It was a good opportunity to catch up with the youth of other parishes.
A dynamic game was conducted to ‘break the ice’, after which the videos that were filmed at the Diocesan Youth Camp were screened.
The Bishop was presented with the canvas decorations prepared by the youth groups of the Diocese. The night ended with the opportunity for a group photo.
Thanks to Bishop Anthony for the Mass and to Fr Chris and his youth group. Thanks to the priests and religious who came in large numbers to show their solidarity with the young people. Thanks to one and all who participated in the event with great spirit.
Now it is our task to work to get more and more young people to go to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. We need to take Jesus to others and others to Jesus. Let us work together in this God-given mission.
What is World Youth Day really about?
Rev Fernando Montano Rodriguez MG
|Fr Fernando with a group of pilgrims at WYD in Germany.|
For many Australians, their experience of World Youth Day is the amazing week in 2008 when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flooded the streets of Sydney. They filled our churches in the mornings for catechesis given by bishops from different countries and in different languages. For a majority of Catholics in Australia, this is the only knowledge they have about WYD.
The Diocese is now working on preparing the pilgrims for the next WYD in Madrid in 2011. Under Bishop Anthony’s guidance we have set a target of 500 pilgrims who will represent the Diocese at this important international event.
Being a pilgrim to three such gatherings, I can tell you that the experience of a WYD overseas is very different from the experience we had in Sydney.
Preparation starts well ahead to make sure that pilgrims are ready to make as much as possible of the experience and emphasis is given to helping the participants to have a closer encounter with Jesus and to deepen their faith.
Diocesan representatives need to be in contact with the host city to know as much as possible about the preparations, weather, services, and all the details that will help the pilgrims to enjoy the experience to the full.
Maybe you are asking yourself, why should I go to WYD in Spain? The experience is defined mainly with the word “pilgrimage”. WYD is for young people who want to do something about their faith; it is a misconception that WYD is only for very devout Catholics.
WYD is for young people who may be in the best possible stage in their spiritual journey and want to tell the world about it; it may be for those who have started the journey but are lacking the spark, enthusiasm and support of what other young people are doing to grow in a society that sometimes goes against the values of the Gospel; it may be for those who want to do something about their faith but do not know where to start. The important thing is to be aware of the reality of your spiritual life and want to do something about it.
I am sure that for those who join in this experience they will be among thousands of pilgrims who have described WYD as ‘one of the best experiences of my life’ or even ‘life-changing’.
This is witnessed in the many young pilgrims who approach priests for reconciliation in that magical week – for many pilgrims that is the moment that defines their future regarding the direction they want to give to their faith.
For the parishes, groups and Christian communities that send their pilgrims to this experience it is also a challenge and a commitment to provide ways and spaces for young people to continue their journey of faith once they come back from WYD.
We have to be aware that the flame they have in their hearts can be easily killed if once back in their own Christian communities they are confronted with indifference and ironic attitudes for their newfound faith.
If you want to do something about your faith, join us for the WYD experience! Details can be found with your parish priest, school representative, the Diocesan Youth Office or the WYD committee. Visit Catholic Youth Parramatta: http://www.parra.catholic.org.au/youth
Peace in Jesus,
Melbourne Youth Ministry Convention
By Ben Ruiz – GenChristi Youth Group
Early last month, a group of five of us came together, drawn by our involvement with young people in the Diocese of Parramatta, to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention in Melbourne.
Some of us did not know each other well at the beginning but bonded during the insightful three-day convention attended by 400 delegates from around the nation.
We arrived in Melbourne in advance to attend the World Youth Day 2011 debrief in the Diocesan Youth Office prior to the convention. This also allowed time to enjoy the city sights and cafés, including an uplifting bike ride along the Yarra River to get us in touch with our youthful side. It was a nice lead-up to the weekend, which provided keynote addresses and workshops facilitating youth ministry.
Presenters from around Australia and the US provided formation. One message that stuck with me was that a common element in vibrant youth ministry was its passionate leaders, and that youth want relationships, rather than being merely ministered to.
The convention presented creative ways in how ministers can get more connected and in touch with the youth and foster their journey of spiritual growth.
There was the opportunity to also meet and network with others working in youth ministry, sharing in fellowship and from each other’s experiences and ideas.
A vast number of workshops were available, providing valuable tips, tools and resources geared at successful youth ministry. One workshop I attended raised awareness for the care of Youth Ministers themselves, to avoid getting burned out, management of stress and the importance of formation and training.
An inspiring keynote address by the charismatic Bishop Joseph Grech highlighted the final day of the convention. Bishop Grech spoke passionately about living out and celebrating our identity as Catholics. “To be chosen by God for all eternity to be more and more like Jesus.”
Bishop Grech revitalised the gathering, calling for Jesus to live in us and for us to stand for Jesus in our ministry and lives.It has been a wonderful experience attending the Youth Ministry Convention. It has certainly equipped me with an improved outlook in approaching youth ministry. There is much joy in journeying with others as we share in fellowship and in service.
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