Midland parishioner Elijah Boylen recalled to The Record first hand his experience of attending the 2017 Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney.
The next ACYF will be held in Perth, from Saturday 8 to Tuesday 10 December.
“Walking into a dark stadium to be met with the sight of more than 15,000 young people filled with joy and ready to praise the Lord is kind of breath-taking.
It fills you with hope knowing you’re not alone in your faith and that there are thousands of young people who share your enthusiasm.
In December 2017, I was one of the many young people from Perth who had the amazing opportunity to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) in Sydney with CYM (Catholic Youth Ministry, Perth).
The theme: Opening New Horizons for Spreading Joy fulfilled; it was one of the most joy- filled times of my life.
Imagine the sight of thousands of young people gathered together in a darkened stadium except for a tiny circle of white, lit up by a single beam of light. Silence. The Body of Christ amid a sea of faces. An experience like that is a visceral encounter with the Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s adoration in a way you’ll never forget. And afterwards, a train packed with hundreds of young people singing praise and worship songs at the top of their voices. Seeing the joy that they bring to the life of every person they pass. It’s hard to resist getting caught up in the moment and this was just the experience of ACYF on Saturday night.
A highlight for me was attending a talk by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher about marriage. During the question time, he was approached by a man who was feeling challenged by the Church’s teachings on same-sex marriage. Archbishop Fisher responded in an extremely compassionate and loving way, while also standing firm in the teachings of our Catholic faith. It was a brilliant example of evangelisation and showed that a way to open people to a relationship with Jesus is to appeal to the heart, not the mind. And it wasn’t just Archbishop Fisher. The way the other bishops interacted with the young really demystified them. We experienced them as regular people and not high and mighty judges.
As a guy, I like regular guy things. I enjoy listening to and playing music, sports, video games and just about anything else that you could turn into a competition (seriously, name it and I’ll beat you at it). Consequently, at the Plenary sessions, I was blown away by the music of Matt Maher, Steve Angrisano, Emily Wilson, and Gary Pinto. Together with the amazing talks and testimonies given by the various speakers, it created a Holy Spirit filled atmosphere that was inspiring. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” and the joy that ACYF filled me with was indeed my strength for the following year.
You see, while I enjoy regular guy things, I’m not sure I’d describe myself as a regular guy.
In 2018, I studied a Certificate IV in Catholic Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation, which gave me the opportunity to minister to young people in schools all around Perth. ACYF kickstarted this journey, producing a joy I carried with me through any hardship I experienced ever since.
ACYF has been a life changing experience for me and strengthened my faith immensely. This year it’s being held in Perth and I would recommend for every young person to go; I will be! So, concluding with the words of St Paul, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
See you at ACYF 2019!
From pages 26 and 27 of Issue 17: ‘Plenary 2020: A whole Church entering into mission, dialogue and discernment’ of The Record Magazine