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Sydney gears up for unprecedented line-up of Catholic events

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The Lights of Christmas are expected to bring more than one million people to St Mary’s Cathedral this December. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

More than one million people will flock to Sydney in the coming weeks to celebrate and participate in an unprecedented line-up of major events celebrating the Catholic Church including Australia’s largest Mass since World Youth Day.

The program will provide an opportunity for people of all ages to come together during one of the holiest periods in the religious calendar and be united in faith, joy and optimism.

Kicking off with the AGB-produced Lights of Christmas spectacular on the facade of St Mary’s Cathedral on 6 December, the family favourite event, which runs until Christmas Day, promises to capture the imagination of children and adults-alike with a blend of storytelling and traditional and digital artwork.

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Now in its eighth year, the world-class experience was recently honoured by being included in the Australia Post Christmas series and has become one of Sydney’s most popular festive events with more than one million attending last year alone.

Then on 7 December the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) starts with tens of thousands of youngsters from all over Australia descending on Homebush and The Domain for the three-day program.

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend a December 9 Mass in The Domain. PHOTO: Daniel Boud

A stellar line up of international and home-grown presenters and performers including world renowned Catholic singer Matt Maher, speaker and worship leader Emily Wilson and fellow American singer songwriter Steve Angrisano will inspire and entertain the young crowds at Sydney Olympic Park and Qudos Bank Arena.

The festival will culminate on Saturday evening 9 December with a closing Mass at The Domain where up to 30,000 people are expected – the biggest public Mass in Australia since World Youth Day in 2008.

“While ACYF is predominantly for young Catholics to come together to celebrate their faith, we hope people of all ages and many families from across Sydney will join us for this beautiful Mass in the heart of our city,” said Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who will be the principal celebrant and joined by up to 30 bishops.

“It will be a wonderful opportunity to unite in prayer and open our hearts to God.”

The festivities will also officially start the Australian launch of the Year of Youth – a year-long celebration to mark the tenth anniversary of World Youth Day Sydney.

And finally, singing in the festive season will be the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir performing its annual A Christmas Celebration on 15 December, also held at the cathedral.

Led by the cathedral’s Director of Music, Thomas Wilson, the two concerts held at 11am and 7pm features performances of traditional congregational carols, including the ever-popular O Holy Night, and music by J S Bach, Handel, John Rutter and others.

“There is nothing like the traditional Christmas experience and choristers singing beautiful music in such an inspiring building at this special time of year: what a great way to start Christmas,” Mr Wilson told The Catholic Weekly.

For information on these events go to

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