By Josh Low
With the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) having come to a close on Sunday, The eRecord was able to catch up with Michelle Perkins, one of the pilgrims from Lockridge Parish Good Shepherd Church, about her experience of the festival.
Coming from a Catholic family, Michelle explained that her mother had encouraged her to attend the festival and have an experience of faith among other young people, as her brother had attended World Youth Day in Poland, last year.
“I only went to the youth group because friends went as well, so it was initially just a social thing for me.
“But my dad did tell me that it’s not just about going for the friends but to learn more about my faith, and how to use what I learn to grow as a young person and Catholic,” she said.
Michelle said that a talk which stood out to her was ‘God’s Love in a Secular World’ by Sister Hilda Scott OSB, which touched on exploring ways of coming to know God in today’s society and building a relationship which leads to His ever presence in our lives.
“The workshop I went to about being Catholic in a secular world where the different opinions between the Church and society was explained really opened my eyes to the issues that we face in the world,” Michelle said.
“I go to a Catholic school; more than half of them are Catholic but are not necessarily practising Catholics, so I do get a lot of judgmental views on how I practise my faith.
“Those around me at school aren’t very into the faith and judge my beliefs on topics like same-sex marriage for example,” she said.
“I have my own opinions and they have theirs, which is fine. I don’t mind them having their own opinions but it’s a bit difficult for me to talk about the Catholic faith because I get looked down on.”
Michelle said that being at ACYF has provided her with an opportunity to live out her faith among other young Catholics aspiring to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus.
“Being here among so many young Catholics has allowed for me to be who I am as a Catholic; I don’t have to change just to feel like I belong.
“Many others in the workshop discussions spoke about how they also get judged for being Catholic and for the views they hold in their groups of people they work and go to school with, and mentioned how they end up feeling like outcasts,” she said.
She said that ACYF has inspired her to be more involved in her faith and the life of the Church, adding that a phrase she heard Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP say in his opening plenary stood out in her mind.
“Hearing Archbishop Fisher say that we are in the world but not of the world, really made me think more about my life, and how to be a Catholic in today’s society.
“Being Catholic is not just a label, but a way of life; how you live the Catholic faith and follow in the footsteps of Jesus,” she concluded.