DARRA Jindalee parishioner Felicia Nasalio, 23, had four simple reasons for her pilgrim journey to Perth for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival this week.
She wanted to connect with young people, deepen her faith, deepen her love for Jesus and ignite the spark she felt inside.
She said she had been feeling lost lately, and “I feel like the Holy Spirit is actually calling me here”. Her call was one of 5500 at ACYF 2019.
Others like Tom Warren, from Albany Creek parish, had a simpler reason for being there.
“I was asked by Vinnies and I’ve always wanted to go,” the 22-year-old said.
“I was supposed to go two years ago in Sydney, however, sadly, some plans fell through and meant I couldn’t go along and I was really disappointed.
“I wanted to go to the next one and, yeah, to be here is really amazing.”
His favourite part of the festival at the halfway mark was a few workshop sessions that he said he found helpful.
“There was one particular session called Sustainable Youth Ministry and, like, the stuff that was brought up was a really clear, honest way of being able to keep that sustainable youth ministry,” he said.
“And that’s definitely something I can bring back to all my programs back home.
“That was something that was so good to have.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I should have, as in this is an Australia-wide thing and they got Australia’s best to present.”
Mr Warren said he appreciated how the Plenary Council 2020 and the ACYF had been “tied together”.
“It isn’t one of those things that’s like let’s tick this box at the plenary council and move on.
“It’s very much, let’s listen to the plenary council and let’s bring it into ACYF.
“I think young people are definitely taking it on.
“It’s not saying listen to what the Church is saying and young people have to listen; it’s saying, what is your heart saying and share that with the world.”
Jenna White, 17, from Hervey Bay parish, said she came to the ACYF “with a question for God”.
She said she had been looking for an answer, and slowly but surely her questions were being answered.
“This is such a challenging and pivotal time in my religious journey with God but I am excited to see what adventures he has in store for me,” Ms White said.
She said she was surprised by how “up with the times” the bishops and Church leaders were.
Her favourite part was the music.
“Their incredible talent to be able to touch so many hearts by doing what they love is so inspiring,” she said.
“A significant thing I have learnt from time here at ACYF is how important each and every encounter is.
“You never know how meeting one person may influence your entire path in life.
“So treat everyone with the love and kindness you would like to receive in return.”
Ms White said the great gift of the ACYF would be the enthusiasm she would take back to her local parish, saying she couldn’t wait to get back home and share everything she had learned.
Ipswich parishioner David King, 22, came to the ACYF with three other people.
He said it was always overwhelming on the first day, especially with so many people and hearing their stories.
“It’s something I’ve been to before; I went down two years ago to Sydney and that was a really great experience; I had a lot of great memories there,” he said.
“The great thing I find about ACYF (is) you really feel like you can let all your worries go and no matter who you go to and talk to they’re always there to accept you and be friendly and nice.”
Mr King also enjoyed the lectures and workshops, but found it tough to pinpoint his favourite part of the festival.
“The lectures and workshops are really great; I do love them,” he said.
“One I went to yesterday was about, ‘Lead yourself before you choose to lead others’.
“(The speaker) was very involving and very funny and also very informative about what it takes to be a leader in the society today and whether that be just in your own friendship groups. It’s something you can really apply to anything.”
Mr King said he would bring home some important lessons from the ACYF.
He said while his youth ministry at his parish was more reflective and prayerful, ACYF showed that there was a diversity of active and reflective ways to engage your faith.
“It’s also just the knowledge that I’m getting here that I can teach to others,” he said.
“Many different things I could bring back, but it’s really just to provide anything to anyone who’s asking questions about the faith.
“This event just allows me to be there for them.
“Literally what the message of this year is, to listen to what the Spirit is saying; it’s basically inspiring me on how I can best help others.”