Young people can make a difference in the world by dreaming big, staying close to God and not being afraid to choose comfort over greatness, the Australian Catholic Youth Festival participants were we told last week.
The tone of reaching out to those in need was set by Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards, who quoted the words of Australia’s first saint Mary Mackillop to the packed stadium, ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’.
His rousing call to action was followed by the 2016 Young Australians of the Year and founders of Orange Sky Laundry; the free mobile laundry for the homeless – Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett.
The Brisbane based men told their story of seeing a need, having a dream and, when they were barely out of school, acting on that dream, creating the world’s first free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness.
Nic Marchesi told the packed arena how an encounter with a homeless man at the age of 13, and the realisation that 1 in 200 Australians are homeless, prompted he and Lucas to make a real change to the lives of those less fortunate.
“In Year 12 we found the homelessness numbers so hard to comprehend that we wanted to do something about it,” Lucas explained.
“So, Nic and I hatched a crazy dream.
“We wanted to improve the hygiene standards of the homeless people. We decided we were going to build a mobile laundry for the homeless. Three months ago, Orange Sky Laundry turned three and in that time we have done 500,000 kg of free laundry.”
But, they say, much of the life-changing contact with homeless people occurs on six chairs set up beside the laundry van.
“The important thing is the hour-long chat on six orange chairs while the people wait,” Nic said. “Conversations change our lives.”
Los Angeles based speaker and musician Emily Wilson told the young people they shouldn’t be anxious about working out their vocation, but just stay close to God.
“Our foundational vocation is to be the love of Jesus, to be his hands and feet,” she said.
“From there, working out whether you have a vocation to married life, priesthood, religious life or single life is a process of discernment.
“One of the first key components of discernment is openness – being open to God,” she said.
“The second component is prayer. We must talk to God in order for him to help discover our vocation is, asking him to conform our will to His.”