The Archdiocese of Sydney’s 2023-24 Summer Series kicked off with a series of powerhouse performances, sold out events and rockstar welcomes for celebrated Catholic evangelists Matt Fradd and Jason Evert.
Organised by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, thousands gathered from all over the world to hear from two of our most prominent Catholic voices.
On 7-8 December, a total of 2000 Catholic youth packed the Rosebank College Auditorium to attend the sold-out Purpose Conference.
Over 400 women attended a women’s morning event at the Novatel in Homebush, when Fradd kicked off the Summer Series on 6 December, at an event for the Catholic Women’s Network.
And that night Fradd addressed over 450 Catholic men as a guest of the Sydney Archdiocese Maximus Men’s Ministry’s Network.
For one of the organisers, Helena Roumanus, from the Catholic Women’s Network, the sold-out events have been the culmination of months of work.
“Fradd is a rock star. He is a home-grown talent and we love bringing them back home,” said Helena. On 7-8 December it was, indeed, a rockstar welcome for Fradd and Evert as nearly 2000 young people welcomed them to Purpose Conference.
Around the world, Evert has become an in-demand speaker and the “go to guy” for teens perplexed by an increasingly secular and relativistic culture.
Evert spoke to the teens about sexuality and gender, particularly around current debates on transgenderism and pronouns.
He gave advice on living the Christian message of not abandoning those who are caught up in gender dysphoria.
Fourteen-year-old Mackenna Reid from Sutherland found the two-day conference to be an inspiring one.
“I’ve had a wonderful time, it’s really fun connecting with other schools, getting to know other young Catholics and receiving such inspiring talks,” she said.
Day two of the conference began with a Mass celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who was full of praise for the organisers.
Archbishop Fisher challenged the 800-youth gathered to be “800 saints” and to follow in the footsteps of the young, blessed Mother of God.
He told the youth they could show the world what a “high purpose” Generation Z are capable of.
He asked the “screenagers” in attendance to use their devices for good and emulate the Blessed Mother when she answered the call from God, “not with a confused emoji, but with a thumbs up!”
Fradd’s women’s event on 6 December drew a packed crowd of 400, who answered the invitation from the Catholic Women’s Network to spend the morning with the popular podcaster.
Starting with a morning prayer and fellowship, Fradd enlightened his audience with a keynote address about the Blessed Mother.
Fradd’s talk gave an overview of the world’s longing for Mary through salvation history.
He led the audience through a “typological” approach to Scripture—showing how Christ and
Mary are the fulfilment of promises Adam and Eve were destined for, but failed to choose.
Most potently for his audience, Fradd challenged their idea of Mary as just an ideal, and revealed her as a mother with unconditional love.
For young mum Brianna Kurtz, it was a revelatory experience.
“I’ve always only found it a bit hard to connect with Mary. From Matt’s talk, he made her more human and now I have a lot more confidence knowing that Mary’s there. She’s not a statue. She’s an actual person,” she said.
For organiser, Helena Roumanus, the fellowship of the women who attended was a highlight.
“You could feel the women, the laughter, the joy, the gasps, the sighs, like the moments of tenderness and vulnerability that were given like by Matt,” she said.
Later it was the men’s turn to spend an evening with Fradd, with an event that began like your average Friday night out, with beers and conversation flowing in equal measure on the Novatel deck as the sun set.
But this was a gathering of men thirsty for more than a few drinks, and Fradd did not disappoint—challenging his audience from the outset.
“What kind of man do you want to be?” he asked them.
“What kind of men do you respect? How do you want to be remembered when you die?”
He advised them to then “give into peer pressure” from the right sources, from men “who are also seeking to be the best man, husband and father they can be.”
Fradd challenged men to “pick fights” if you are fighting for the “right” reasons: “your family, your faith and your wife.”
For those dating: he advised: “get married before you’re ready and have more kids than you can afford and do it now!”
He also encouraged men to “not walk but run to the sacrament of confession! Turning away from the sacrament is like turn away from the grace of God.”
For 23-year-old Anthony Raad from Beecroft, it was the “hard chat” he’d been looking for.
“I was very happy that it was simple. It was straight up and down and he was real. He met us where we are and where we want to be,” said Anthony.
“Events like this are a real shot of adrenaline for these men,” said Fr Ben Saliba, who gave the opening and closing prayer.
“I think as a culture, when you move so far away from reality, people go searching for something.
“We see a lot of men, each week, searching for something deeper. They want to be better husbands, better boyfriends, better fathers and a night like tonight is really encouraging.”