People carrying burning questions about their lives to Sydney’s Mind, Body, Spirit Festival are often surprised to find the Catholic Spirituality stall there.
“Many come looking for spirituality and when they come across our stall they are surprised to see the word in connection with the Catholic Church, “says Catherine Kennedy, head of the Sydney archdiocese’ office for evangelisation, Encounter.
“We have to be there to show them the connection; to show them that the ultimate answer to their questions is Jesus.”
Catherine led a team of lay volunteers and priests who spoke with 600 visitors to the stall over the four-day event held at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour.
“Everyone who comes to the stall is looking for healing, for meaning and some kind of deeper understanding of what life is all about,” says Catherine.
“They want to talk and have these deep faith conversations.”
In contrast to some of the other stall holders who Catherine says “literally sell lies”, all of the offerings – such as rosary beads, prayer cards, information resources on life and faith – are given for free “as a reflection of God’s infinite and unconditional love and mercy”.
More than 400 people left a prayer petition in a box after using the special prayer space at the stall.
Those prayers were offered at a Mass at the Polding Centre and will be left with the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master in Strathfield who will provide ongoing intercession.
Catherine said she noticed many people came this time with a burning question about the Church or faith or reconnecting with God and admitted they had felt especially drawn to approach the stall volunteers.
“That moved me deeply because our special prayer this year was ‘Lord, bring to us the people you want us to speak to’.
“There was a lady in particular who had been away from the Church for a long time and said she knew she wanted and needed to reconnect.
“After spending some time with us she told us she was so glad she’d found us because two nights before she had prayed, “Here I am Lord. I know I need to return, but I’m not sure what to do, show me the next step.
“So her coming to us was not just an answer to our prayer but her answer as well.”