Archbishop asks Year 11’s for advice

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP relaxes with students from all over Sydney. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP relaxes with students from all over Sydney. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Christus Vivit! Christ is alive! That was the word of the day at Archbishop Anthony’s Student Leadership Forum.

Combining 245 students from 47 of Sydney’s Catholic Schools at Cathedral House, the Student Leadership Forum saw the best and brightest come together to discuss the future of the Church in Australia.

The Archbishop opened the forum by addressing the importance of accompaniment and what it meant to let Christ into our lives, telling the students: “Over the next few years as you reshape your character and cultivate new habits, the Church wants to help,”.

“Remember, when you want Christ’s hand more than ever, He wants to walk the road with you. He is willing. It’s up to us to choose to invite Him or not.”

In the theme of accompaniment, the Archbishop also encouraged students to look inwards at what they can do as members of the Catholic family.

Paraphrasing US President John F. Kennedy, the Archbishop told the student leaders “Ask not what the Church can do for you, ask what you can do for the Church.”

In smaller table groups, students were able to engage in discussion with students from other schools. Archbishop Fisher made his way around the tables, keen to hear from the students and find new ideas to assist bring the Church in Sydney and young people closer together.

Following the forum, the students headed to St. Mary’s Cathedral where they received a blessing from the Archbishop. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Following the forum, the students headed to St. Mary’s Cathedral where they received a blessing from the Archbishop. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The forum discussed “How can the Church support and accompany you in your faith, both within your school and Church communities?”, and “As young Catholic leaders, can you identify other distractors or obstacles that can prevent young people from a life with Christ and the Church?”

Conversation was lively and focused on the different ways that the Church can reach a younger generation and walk with them to help shape the future of the Church in Australia.

A question and answer segment followed and students were able to speak directly with Archbishop Anthony.

Free to ask any and all questions, the leaders were keen to hear the Archbishop’s take on social media use, bad publicity, Church attendance, women in the church and remaining strong in their faith.

The Archbishop gave insightful answers and encouraged the students present to pursue their faith. When asked specifically about negativity towards the Church, the Archbishop encouraged students to “keep perspective.”

“There are lots of positives. There is a lot to be proud of and to celebrate. We need to do the good bits better and correct the bad bits,” he said.

“Be clear in your own mind. Reason, logic, science, these are no threat to us. You have nothing to fear from the truth.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP encourages the students present to pursue their faith. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP encourages the students present to pursue their faith. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Following the forum, the students headed to St. Mary’s Cathedral where they received a blessing from the Archbishop before the congregation enjoyed lunch together.

Newly elected St. Mary’s Cathedral College Captain Matthew Lorente attended the forum and said “It was a great day”.

“It has been a  good opportunity to meet new people and work with other school leaders. It’s always good to see the Archbishop in this way too”.

Tony Farley, Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools said “[There was] a grounded sense of real faith, where the complexities of life meet the eternal truths of the faith. There is so much to be optimistic about and it was an honor to be a part of it.”

Rounding out the event the Archbishop explained “It’s inspiring to see these representatives here. It’s great to see what good Catholics can do when they feel some self-confidence, they feel supported.

“[We’re in] Dark times for the Church, yet when you see a new generation not give up but want to make it better, it’s very encouraging.”