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‘Year of Youth’ theme announced as Sydney issues invitation to Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017

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Bishop Richard Umbers joins young people in Adoration at Gracefest 2016 on 28 August. Photo: Captured Frames
Bishop Richard Umbers joins young people in Adoration on 28 August at Gracefest 2016. Photo: Captured Frames

The theme for the ‘Year of Youth,’ which will begin with the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney, 7-9 December 2017, has been revealed by the Australian bishops’ secretariat and will engage young people in “local discussion and dialogue” in parishes, schools, youth groups and dioceses.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, marking one year to go until the Sydney event, said the theme would be, ‘Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment’.

The year of “dialogue and discernment” will form part of the contribution of the Church in Australia to the next Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2018, with its focus on ‘Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,’ the ACBC announced on 7 December. The discussions will also go towards preparations for the Plenary Council in Australia in 2020, to be chaired by Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.

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The 2017 youth festival has also been styled as a 10 year anniversary celebration of World Youth Day 2008, when Sydney welcomed hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to a week-long youth festival with the then-pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney, who spearheaded WYD 2008, issued a new invitation to young people across the country to what promises to be another landmark event, telling young people that “the festival will bring your peers and Church leaders together to celebrate the young Church of Australia.”

ACBC president Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said the bishops appreciated the “gifts and contributions of young people,” and he encouraged them to “open your hearts to the life God intends for you and so make a real difference in the world.”

“In 2018, we want to engage with youth in new ways and they with us, helping young people to encounter God in Jesus Christ and his Church,” Archbishop Hart said.

“Today, many young people want to serve, and others are willing to take a chance to make the world a better place.

“Leaders and older members of the Church must continue to listen to and benefit from the many graces of youth, supporting them to discern their vocation and identify their call in the world, within communities where they are safe, nurtured and respected.”

More information is available at

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