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Faith overflowing at city of churches youth festival

Bishop selfie

Faith on fire: Brisbane auxilary Bishop Joseph Oudeman smiles for a selfie with young people at the Adelaide Convention Centre stage during the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. Photo: Daniel Hopper.

AUSTRALIA’S largest Catholic youth festival has inspired a Brisbane teenager to teach young women to respect their bodies and heed to Catholic teaching on sexuality.

Speaking with an internationally renowned United States chastity speaker Jason Evert convinced the young teenager that the Church’s teachings on chastity and purity were important.

Grace King, a Year 8 student at Loreto College, Coorparoo, returned from the second Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Adelaide with answers to questions about Catholic Church teaching.

“ACYF answered questions about what it meant to be a Catholic, things about lust, love and contraception,” she said.

Miss King was one of 3500 young people in Adelaide for the country’s largest youth festival, an event that helped the young teenager open her heart to God. 

“Being there with that many young people, and sharing my faith, gave me hope for myself,” she said.

 “I get stuff at school about being Catholic, as I’m sure many other people do, but ACYF just made me feel like I have a community, that I was not alone in my faith.”

Adoration and Confession also helped the young teenager to open her heart to God.

“Now I know God more,” she said.

“I’ve always grown up Catholic but for the past couple of years I’ve been taking a journey where Mass just sounds like words, but now it’s much more.”

When she starts school in the new year, Miss King will be dropping “subtle hints” to other young women to respect their bodies.

“I think I want to start, not preaching, but drop subtle hints into conversation, like saying, ‘What about respecting yourself as a woman’ and helping young people in my parish,” she said.

Brisbane archdiocesan youth project consultant Teresa McGrath was glowing with Brisbane pride at the youth festival Adelaide.

Mrs McGrath said more than 16 youth ministry groups, including the Darra-Jindalee Catholic parish, Passionist Youth, Project Hatch, Jesus Youth, Albany Creek parish and the Sisters of St Paul de Chartres, were in Adelaide for the festival.

“I was proud of how many Brisbane people were involved,” Mrs McGrath said.

Vocation Brisbane director Fr Morgan Batt dropped from the ceiling onto the Adelaide Convention Centre stage strapped in rock-climbing gear that has graced more than 170 mountaintops.

When asked to talk on the mountaintop experience of the Beatitudes, where Jesus went up a hill to teach his disciples, organisers added a final request for Fr Batt to abseil down into the crowd.

“It’s the first time I’ve abseiled into a gathering of people,” he said.

But while the experienced mountaineer waited above a crowd of 3000 youth, a rescue workplace health and safety staff member posed the priest a question.

“I was standing up the top waiting for my cue, and this guy asks me, ‘So what’s with this Jesus stuff?’,” Fr Batt said.

“So while the plenary is going on, for twenty minutes I’m evangelising this guy forty feet in the air.”

Before climbing down the convention centre ceiling, Fr Batt handed the man his Rosary beads.

“I will probably never see him again,” he said.

Sydney will host the next ACYF, with the event to coincide with the launch of a national Year of Youth.

The new Year of Youth, which will begin in December of 2017, will celebrate 10 years since Sydney hosted World Youth Day in 2008.

Delegate for youth, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, announced the Year of Youth at the close of Adelaide’s ACYF.

“The Australian bishops and their youth council identified an opportunity to celebrate a significant milestone in the life of the Church in Australia,” Archbishop Fisher said.

“It is crucial the Church upholds young people as a priority and re-affirms and sustains its work with them in the spirit of World Youth Day 2008.”

By Emilie Ng

Catholic Church Insurance

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