More than twice the anticipated number of people joined Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP last night in Liverpool for the launch of Sydney Catholic Youth.
All Saints was bursting at the seams with 1200+ young people and young families when all four of Sydney’s bishops processed into the church for Mass.
Archbishop Fisher ended formal proceedings with a blessing of around 50 youth leaders, who hailed from parishes and schools throughout Sydney, before an epic fiesta of food, cultural performance and dancing ensued outside.
“My young friends, there are voices out there that would sell you short,” Archbishop Fisher said in his homily.
“They say young people aren’t up to much, that they’re no longer interested in great ideals …
“I say and the Church says with me, ‘nonsense!’ Your presence here tonight demonstrates that you aspire to more than the shallow versions of fulfilment offered in the culture.
“By God’s grace, with the support of family, friends and Church, you can do great things.”
Samoan, Indian and Spanish dance and the performance of the Melkite Marching Band took an already buoyant atmosphere to another level after Mass, as did the food on offer, which was dished up by Maronites on a Mission.
Liverpool youth minister Quyn Ha, 19, said the night had exceeded her expectations:
“It gives me a lot of hope, not only to see a stronger youth presence in the Church but in the wider world; that we are not just hidden away in a corner, but a huge presence.”
Benjamin Woolf, 19, said he enjoyed mixing with young Catholics from such a diverse variety of backgrounds:
“It got everyone into the mood for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival and made them hungry for more, and excited about what could be on offer after the festival.”
Justin Story, a youth minister at Marcellin College in Randwick, said he also appreciated the shift in focus that the new youth office, SCY, represented.
“They’re very much focused on growing local youth ministers rather than getting people to central events,” Justin said.
“They’re investing in us and putting a lot of faith in us.”
Bishop Richard Umbers, Sydney Archdiocese’s Vicar for Evangelisation, said his highlight had been the Samoan choir, who sang during Mass.
He said it was normal for the Church to go through new periods of growth and that the presence of all four bishops was a sign of just how seriously the archdiocese regarded the youth apostolate.
“There are waves of rejuvenation, and this is the next wave – the next chapter.”