The lines of young Catholics waiting to attend the sacrament of reconciliation were so long at a recent praise and worship festival that priests continued hearing confessions long after the event had finished.
Eastfest, held on 1 March at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College in Kensington, was like a mini World Youth Day with over 800 young Catholics in attendance.
“One of the leaders who was in charge of reconciliation said they have never seen so many people go,” Janice Fernandes, Coordinator of Eastern Deanery Sydney, told The Catholic Weekly.
“Even when adoration was over, people kept streaming up for reconciliation and it continued on even until after the event officially finished.”
Ten priests heard confessions continuously throughout the night.
The event—hosted by Eastern Deanery Sydney with support from Sydney Catholic Youth and Sydney Catholic Schools—attracted many who had been pilgrims at WYD in Panama as well as bus loads of students from Sydney Catholic Schools.
The night which has been described by participants as “joyful” included praise and worship music, reflection, Eucharistic adoration, reconciliation and prayer. The ever-popular singer-songwriter, Fr Rob Galea, performed many crowd favourites, enticing the young people to form a mosh-pit in front of the stage as they sang and danced along.
Many parish youth groups from around Sydney were in attendance and various youth movements including The Culture Project Australia and Sydney Youth Mission Team.
“What really touched my heart was the young people were telling me that the event really strengthened their faith, that it helped them to be courageous in their faith,” Ms Fernandes said.
“Our biggest problem was too many people, which is a good problem to have.”
In celebration of WYD, there was a flag presentation with young people displaying flags from different countries around the world during one of Fr Galea’s performances.
A new event called Act1v8 was also launched on the night, offering monthly gatherings for Catholic youth hosted by Eastern Deanery Sydney consisting of praise and worship, Adoration and fellowship.