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The annual Sydney Catholic Schools Mass to mark the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians and other large youth events are vital in the formation of young Catholics who may otherwise feel isolated in their faith.
More than 800 Catholic secondary students from across Sydney gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral on 27 May to celebrate Our Lady Help of Christians, patroness of the ‘great south land of the Holy Spirit’.
“For a lot of young people, when they go to Mass in their own time, often they won’t see other young people,” said Anthony Cleary, director of religious education and evangelisation for Sydney Catholic Schools. “They might feel like the odd one out.
“Events like this reinforce that faith is something for young people as well. When they come to these Masses they are surrounded by other young people, so it is a reaffirmation of their faith.”
In his homily, Bishop Terry Brady, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, reflected on the spirituality of Indigenous Australians, and spoke about the challenges of the early Church.
“Bishop Brady explained to students why the early bishops and priests of Sydney chose to dedicate Australia to Our Lady Help of Christians,” Mr Cleary said.
It was a “very beautiful Mass” and a “great gathering”, representing every congregation and systemic secondary school in the Sydney archdiocese.
“There was a sense of bringing people together,” he said.
Students prayed for the ongoing recovery of the Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
Many remained at the cathedral after Mass and proceeded through the Holy Doors as part of a pilgrimage for the Year of Mercy.
Others took time to look around the cathedral while their teachers explained the building’s spiritual and architectural significance.
“For a lot of our young people who came to the cathedral, it may have been the first time they had ever been to the cathedral,” Mr Cleary said.
“To actually enter into the cathedral and come into a Mass like that, it has a different atmosphere and different ambiance to a parish Mass.”
Bishop Brady encouraged students to see St Mary’s Cathedral as their spiritual home and to feel welcome there.