The Holy Spirit’s presence was evident when Sydney Catholic School students gathered for a high-energy day of music, prayer, and power-packed talks on World Youth Day.
About 500 Year 9-11 students from nine schools gathered at Holy Spirit College, Lakemba, for the evangelisation day to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of World Youth Day held in Sydney, and also to inspire students to embrace their faith in this Year of Youth.
Glen Thompson, organiser of the day and SCS’s acting Archdiocesan Youth Ministry Co-ordinator, said talks and Q&As by Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Tony Randazzo and dynamic international speaker Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers were highlights that “book-ended” the day.
Bishop Randazzo spoke on the power of the Holy Spirit and its relevance to everyday life, while Deacon Harold challenged the teenagers to pursue happiness in life through their Catholic faith.
“When we receive the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said, “life is anything but boring, or dull, mediocre or routine.”
There was also a panel discussion with Catholic Weekly columnist Monica Doumit and photographer Giovanni Portelli, and Liverpool assistant parish priest Fr Lewi Barakat.
The three friends shared their life-changing World Youth Day O8 experiences and gave the students advice about living as young Catholics today.
A variety of other talks, performances from the Come Alive Youth Band, prayers, and videos rounded out the day.
“The theme of World Youth Day 08 was ‘You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you’ and so many people said that they could tell the Holy Spirit was really alive and active,” said Mr Thompson.
“Everything came so well together and it was a really positive day.
“We were keen to follow up on the success of last year’s Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) and show the students that the Year of Youth is not just a year.
“We want to empower them to go back to their school communities and share what they have received at events like these, and to find joy and strength in their Catholic faith because they are struggling and want authentic answers to their questions.”
St Mary’s Cathedral College Year 11 student Michael Nguyen asked the bishop a question about vocational discernment, and said he appreciated Fr Randazzo’s willingness to share his own experiences.
“You’re more inclined to listen because it’s personal,” he said.
“I really liked it when he spoke about how everyone has the same vocation, to be a good Christian, but that we’re all presented with different opportunities.”