Bankstown youth relish Advent preparation

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Most of those who attended the talk by Br Sheldon Burke CRS (centre) remained for a BBQ dinner afterwards. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
Most of those who attended the talk by Br Sheldon Burke CRS (centre) remained for a BBQ dinner afterwards. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

With their eyes fixed firmly on Christmas, too many Catholics miss out on the importance of Advent as a season of preparation for welcoming the Incarnation.

Youth at St Felix de Valois parish in Bankstown decided to do something about that problem this year.

Over 30 from across Sydney gathered in the parish recently to prepare themselves for Christ’s coming.

The Advent-centred catechesis entitled Ready the Way, hosted by the Bankstown parish and Somascan Movement Australia, was the third in a series of monthly talks organised by the youth of St Felix.

The program was led by Somascan Brother Sheldon Burke CRS from Perth.

Emphasising the importance of not squandering the season, Br Sheldon set out three key steps for entering into Advent.

“Firstly through confession and prayer; secondly by becoming a more Eucharistic person and thirdly by always being ready to meet Jesus,” he told participants.

“We need to dive deeper into the Advent season, the time that the Church gives us to prepare for the Feast.”

Br Sheldon Burke CRS speaks to over 30 youth on preparation during Advent at St Felix parish in Bankstown. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
Br Sheldon Burke CRS speaks to over 30 youth on preparation during Advent at St Felix parish in Bankstown. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

Br Sheldon connected each of the three to a particular coming of Christ, relating prayer to Mary’s pondering of God’s will at the birth of Our Lord in His First Coming, being in a state of grace and ready for the Second Coming and meeting Jesus present in the Eucharist in what is referred to as the Third Coming.

In unpacking these practical ways of preparation, he drew on the words of saints such as St Jose Escriva, St Teresa of Kolkata and the Venerable Fulton Sheen for inspiration.

Many youth connected with Br Sheldon’s testimony and his example of St Dismas, the penitent thief, which encourage them not to be disheartened if they fall along the way.

“Brother’s talk was an awe-inspiring one, to learn of his challenges as a millennial and his breakthrough to accepting Christ as Saviour,” said Elias Eltaref, one of St Felix youth’s leaders.

After a month-long mission to a number of youth groups and parishes across Melbourne and Sydney, Brother Sheldon ended his tour of the East with the iWitness Conference at Stanwell Tops.

“If I could summarise my time in the Eastern States in one word, it would be gratitude,” said Br Sheldon.

“I give thanks to God for having given many opportunities and blessings for the grace to share the charism of the Somascan fathers.

“It has brought me so much joy to meet the youth of Sydney and Melbourne, especially returning to Sydney where I first heard God calling me 10 years ago at World Youth Day.”