By Amanda Murthy
The Archdiocese of Melbourne have plans to send around 2500 of their young people to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) that is scheduled to take place in Perth from 8 to 10 December this year.
This would be the first Diocesan pilgrimage where different parishes, schools and communities will be travelling west with a shared Melbourne identity.
Heading the Archdiocesan efforts in encouraging participation in the upcoming events is Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli, who spoke to The Record on the significance of the ACYF festival for the Church in Australia.
“This festival is the largest Catholic gathering for young people in Australia and is an important opportunity for young people to encounter and celebrate the vitality of the Church in Australia, that they are a critical part of,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
“ACYF is a place where young people can gather to share faith and young people can be empowered to be disciples in today’s world and as an Archdiocese I want us to embrace this opportunity.
“Participants will meet with Church leaders, encounter the sacraments, discover God’s love for them and how they are called to be a disciple of Christ,” Archbishop Comensoli added as he encouraged the young people to embrace the ACYF theme and “Listen to what the spirit is saying.”
Melbourne Catholic Archdiocesan Office for Youth, ACYF Project Coordinator Alexandra Wedd, said the Archdiocese of Melbourne has been encouraging parishes, schools and agency groups to work together in their fundraising efforts and so far, the response for interests in participation has been positive.
“We have recently opened registrations for the Melbourne pilgrimages to ACYF and delighted that groups have already started to register,” she cited.
“Catholic Education Melbourne is providing a generous 50 per cent subsidy for each Catholic Secondary School in the Archdiocese of Melbourne for up to 20 students and two teachers.
“We are hopeful that other organisations might consider providing sponsorship for young people to participate in the ACYF, or supporting staff members to attend as part of their professional development and formation.
“It has been lovely to hear young people and youth leaders getting excited about the possibilities to be part of this large Melbourne pilgrimage,” Ms Wedd added.
Ms Wedd said that she hopes that the festival will enrich the faith lives of young people.
“We are excited to learn that the festival will include opportunities for young people to be accompanied in their discernment and questions,” she said.
“Pilgrimages are moments of healing and decision and they provide a space to engage with life and faith in a deep way.”
After the festival, Ms Spencer confirmed that the Melbourne pilgrims will have at least one day of retreat to unpack the experiences of the festival before heading home.