World Youth Day Bishop set to ‘evangelise’ the West
|On World Youth Day this year (28 March 2010), more than 800 young people joined Bishop Anthony Fisher in St Patrick’s Cathedral for his first Youth Mass as the Bishop of Parramatta. Photo: David Tang.|
In his first year as the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - who coordinated the successful World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 - wants to bring young people back to the Church in western Sydney and strengthen the faith of those who are already connected.
“The Church today is called to a New Evangelisation, that is, to proclaim the Gospel anew in cultures, families and to individuals who were formerly Christian whose attachment to Christ and his Church has weakened,” Bishop Anthony said.
“We must renew our energy in bringing people to Christ and sharing his message of faith, hope and compassion with them. There is no more urgent need for our world.
“The Spirit of Generation Y* research found that most young people believe in God but that only one in six is regularly engaged with any church. Another 35 per cent are still unsure whether God exists.
“Young people are searching for meaning in life, asking the big questions about the mysteries of God, of creation and of themselves. We have to be there for them.”
Bishop Anthony said the Church had not always done its best in engaging young people. “However, as we saw during World Youth Day in Sydney, we do have enormous capacity to make a connection and communicate the Gospel in new ways that young people understand and relate to.
“World Youth Day is a major invitation from the Catholic Church to young people to spend some time considering the big questions about their lives and to be more involved in Church and community so that they make a real difference.”
'Christianity must be active in today's world'
Bishop Anthony, who was installed as the third Bishop of Parramatta on 4 March 2010, is working with Catholic Youth Parramatta and the Catholic Education Office to identify ongoing opportunities for young people to become more involved in their faith and the Church.
To further support the Church in its engagement with young people, Bishop Anthony has established a new Directorate for Evangelisation and Religious Education. Bethany Lentern has been appointed to the position of Youth Ministry Project Officer and Schools World Youth Day Coordinator.
Bishop Anthony hopes to encourage about 500 young people aged 16-35, including students and teachers in Catholic schools, to join Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in Spain in August 2011. Bishop Anthony will be leading a 21-day pilgrimage from the Holy Land to the host city, Madrid. This is one of four pilgrimages led by priests from the Diocese of Parramatta.
Catholic schools are already fundraising in order to subsidise some of the costs for students and staff.
Executive Director of Schools, Greg Whitby, said the pilgrimage was an opportunity for students and teachers to grow in faith and to give back to their school communities.
“In our schools we have many people who identify as Catholic but don’t always have an active involvement in the Church,” Greg said. “Bishop Anthony’s invitation to our students and teachers is a great chance for them to grow closer to Christ, to learn more about the Church and its mission and to come back home from this pilgrimage with both a greater sense of belonging to the Church community and a greater willingness to share this experience with others.”
Bishop Anthony said this initiative was one of many that the Diocese of Parramatta hoped would draw young people back to the Church.
“Christianity, today, must be active in the world,” he said. “It is not enough just to say you believe and keep it to yourself. As Catholics we are called to share our faith with others and act on what we believe; to give the witness of lives lived in justice and compassion and make a difference for others; to help build a civilisation of life and love in a world where lies, intolerance and injustice hurt so many.”
While Bishop Anthony hopes the universal Church will successfully share this message with the whole world, for the moment at least, he is content to start with the young people of western Sydney.
To find out more about World Youth Day contact Catholic Youth Parramatta, phone 02 8838 3419, email email@example.com or visit www.parra.catholic.org.au/youth * The Spirit of Generation Y project (2003-2006), is a national study of spirituality among Australian young people in their teens and twenties, conducted by researchers from Australian Catholic University, Monash University and the Christian Research Association.
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