Almost 20,000 young people were urged to set the world on fire with their faith as the Australian Catholic Youth Festival got underway in Sydney yesterday, the ACBC Media Blog reports.
The festival began at Qudos Bank Arena at Olympic Park with a Welcome to Country, followed by Canadian Catholic music star Matt Maher blasting the stage in praise of Jesus, and Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher’s opening address.
Archbishop Fisher, the Bishops’ Delegate for Youth, challenged the young people present to follow the example of Mary and “Say Yes” to the plans God has for their lives and he reminded them of Pope Francis’ call for young people not to live as couch potatoes.
“Get up off the couch and you’ll be able to see further as well as do more,” he said.
“And that new horizon that is opened up will be a source of joy for you and for others. Say a Marian YES, an in-God-I-trust YES, a with-all-my-heart YES, a for-today-and-always YES to God and see what he can do with you.”
Speaking at a press conference afterwards, Archbishop Fisher said he was enlivened by the faith of the young people on display during the festival opening.
“The young people were on fire with faith from the very beginning. Right from the start, you sensed the Holy Spirit among them, their love for the Church, and their hopes,” he said.
Grammy-nominated Maher, who plays at youth festivals around the world, said he believes such gatherings help young people to meet their struggle for a sense of identity and belonging.
“To belong to something bigger than yourself, and to ask who am I and what’s my place in the world,” he said. “All it takes is a few people exhibiting the joy of Jesus and that joy is infectious and gives that sense of belonging and being part of a narrative that’s bigger than ourselves.”
Archbishop Fisher said his hope for the festival is that the young pilgrims will have an encounter with Jesus and a conversion of heart that will impact their lives.
“I think it’s very important that we’re having ACYF here at this time in Australia.”
Young people urged to say yes to God (ACBC Media Blog)