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All set for Portugal 2023

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Spirits were high as young Catholics gathered to consider heading to the major youth event in the life of the Church next year. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Spirits were high as young Catholics gathered to consider heading to the major youth event in the life of the Church next year. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

By Anna Harrison

With less than 12 months to go, young Sydneysiders have gathered to prepare for WYD

Catholics across Sydney are well and truly ready for WYD23 in Lisbon following a praise rally and prayer night led by popular youth minister and social media influencer, Fr Rob Galea.

Nearly 200 young adults and teachers from the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Catholic school system came together on Saturday 20 August to enjoy a night of fellowship, prayer and WYD information augmented by an array of food trucks and information stalls.

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Taking place at Southern Cross College in Burwood, the event was hosted by Sydney Catholic Schools and supported by Sydney Catholic Youth.

World Youth Day 2023, a major event in the life of the Church for decades, will be the first global Catholic youth gathering after the travel restrictions across the world due to COVID-19 lockdowns have largely disappeared.

With the gathering now less than a year out, the need for securing deposits and commitments is fast approaching.

More than just a concert: Father Tony Alex MGL, blesses participants with the Son of God present in the Blessed Sacrament. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
More than just a concert: Father Tony Alex MGL, blesses participants with the Son of God present in the Blessed Sacrament. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Representatives from Harvest Journeys, the Australian Catholic bishops’ official pilgrimage operator for the event, attended to provide information on travel options for hopeful pilgrims.

Youth headed for Portugal can get there by choosing between 3 pilgrimages: WYD via the Holy Lands, via Italy and Rome or Portugal direct with a brief stop over in Avila. All trips will also end with a short pilgrimage to Fatima after the official WYD.

A short pilgrimage to Avila in Spain is also available.

Apart from providing practical information, the gathering focused on prayer and encouraging those attending to reflect on the theme chosen for the 2023 gathering: ‘Arise, Go in Haste!’ drawn by Pope Francis from the Gospel of Luke (1:39), where Our Lady hastens to serve her cousin Elizabeth while she is also expecting her own child Jesus.

A video reflection titled ‘Spoken Word’ by Melbourne Catholic rapper, Joshua Angrisano (aka Augie), commented on Pope Francis’s express desire that all young people recognise the need to act on their faith, go out to serve, imitating Mother Mary’s perfect yes to the will of God in the process.

Among those headlining both events was popular youth minister Fr Rob Galea, a priest of the Diocese of Sandhurst, who led praise and worship with his band. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Among those headlining both events was popular youth minister Fr Rob Galea, a priest of the Diocese of Sandhurst, who led praise and worship with his band. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Fr Galea echoed that message with his own preaching throughout the night on the need to have an expectant faith, to encourage one another in authentic community and to not hold back in seeking to be a disciple.

If anyone needed any reason to seriously consider heading for Portugal in August 2023, Josh Alegre, a former pilgrim, spoke of his own experience and the transformative nature of the WYD Encounter.

Father Galea’s music and praise, meanwhile, was interspersed with frequent appeals to remember God’s love for all, with the popular priest also sharing from his own life and encounter with the Lord.

Accompanied by his highly professional band, the night continued in musical praise of God, culminating with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction by Fr Tony Alex from the Missionaries of God’s love.

If an uplifting evening inspired young Sydneysiders to consider the possibilities, those present were encouraged to seek out information by contacting Glen Thompson at Sydney Catholic Schools or Milad Khalil from Sydney Catholic Youth for further information.

Anna Harrison is a Youth Officer for Sydney Catholic Youth.

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