Around 1000 people flocked to the first four-day Ignite Youth Conference hosted in the Sydney Archdiocese – a huge success with Catholic youth from across Australia and New Zealand. An initiative of Ignite Youth, an arm of the Emmanuel Community, the event held at Freeman College, Bonnyrigg, from 3-7 October had the theme ‘New Again’.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP attended and celebrated Mass on 4 October, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, and encouraged the young people to take inspiration from the saint who rebuilt and rejuvenated the Church during troubled times.
The event followed the foundation Ignite Conference in Brisbane a week earlier, which from 2001 has gathered young people, families, religious and clergy to share and connect through their Catholic faith.
Taking to the stage were top Australian and international Catholic speakers and performers including Father Rob Galea, Justine Cumbo, Sydney’s Fr Daniel McCaughan, Josh Angrisano, USA’s Paul J Kim and New Zealand’s Brendan Malone. Hip-hop artist and Catholic evangelist Paul J Kim travelled all the way from Los Angeles to entertain and inspire young Aussie Catholics to persevere in the faith.
Among the many Catholic organisations represented at Ignite was Sydney-based group The Culture Project. The dedicated group of energetic young missionaries is committed to changing the lives of young adults all across Australia. The Culture Project champions the emphasis on Catholic virtue in everyday modern life and envisions a world where the dignity of the human person is at the forefront of every relationship, law, and societal structure.
Two members, Bridie Hall and Pete O’Donovan, gave a talk on 5 October titled ‘Off-the-Hook (Up)Dating’. Through candid stories of their own personal experiences, the pair spoke of the importance of seeking to know oneself and cultivating virtue in order to build authentic relationships.
“We dream of a culture that fosters total human flourishing in the context of strong relationships and strong families,” they said.
They encouraged young attendees to “use your words”, to be honest with themselves and their romantic partner even if it opened them to vulnerability. The central message of the conference was hope for positive change through personal encounter with Christ, which all are called to.
Many attending said they look forward to Ignite 2020.