Bishop Richard Umbers jumped directly into the swing of things on Friday night, speaking to more than 1000 young people at Gracefest, a Catholic Youth Services event at the Liverpool Catholic Club.
The energetic crowd included around 600 Catholic school students, almost all of them World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims.
Praise and worship proved a hit with participants, as was the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, on offer to the young people throughout the night.
Sydney Catholic Schools’ Louise Cataldo said that reuniting and reminiscing with friends made at WYD was a highlight, as was Bishop Umbers’ first catechesis to youth as a bishop in which he emphasised the importance of using one’s God-given gifts and talents.
“The evening finished with (singer-songwriter) Fr Rob (Galea) continuing to lead the Catholic youth of Sydney, young teachers and Youth Ambassadors in worshipping God and strengthening the friendships made from WYD,” she said.
“The students and teachers are now encouraged to take the information given to them about further youth events and opportunities within their local parishes, to keep the momentum of Gracefest and WYD alive and the practice of the Catholic faith active within their lives.”
Participants were split into three different groups based on where they lived and then told about youth groups, and upcoming events and initiatives in their area.
At Catholic schools, school-based youth ministry co-ordinators have been asked to offer opportunities for pilgrims to share their experiences of WYD with religious education classes, and to visit local parishes and primary schools.
Student pilgrims who have been particularly inspired by their experience and are keen to translate this into youth ministry will be invited to become Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017 ambassadors.
The ambassadors will receive sponsorship to the ACYF, which will be held in Sydney for the first time and will inaugurate an Australia Year of Youth, in exchange for doing youth ministry in their local area.