WITNESSING to the faith experienced at World Youth Day last year, 150 young people enjoyed Brisbane archdiocese’s i-Witness social justice festival last Sunday.
Held at the newly blessed MacKillop Place, Rosalie, in Brisbane’s central deanery, the afternoon and evening event included “hope-filled” messages in response to the Australian Catholic bishops’ 2009 Social Justice Statement “And You Will Be My Witnesses: Young people and justice”.
Three keynote speakers addressed social justice themes early in the afternoon.
First speaker Anthony Ryan, a leader in outreach to the homeless and under-privileged, spoke on various levels from “orphaned children in Uganda to befriending a homeless, outcast man”.
Two young people also shared of their social justice endeavours.
Former Young Christian Students national chairperson and current senior student at St James’ College, Brisbane, Morgan O’Brien, spoke about his outreach experiences and assisting a national campaign about bullying.
Graduate of Mt Carmel College, Coorparoo, Bianca Hines, spoke about time spent volunteering in Africa and as part of Caritas Australia’s “Be More” social justice campaign.
Youth ministry co-ordinator within Brisbane archdiocese’s Youth and Children’s Ministry Team Michael Hart said workshops during the afternoon “catered for many interests”.
“Budding musicians could choose to attend the songwriting for justice workshop and technology-savvy youths had the opportunity to join the multimedia workshop that discussed the influence of the Internet as a message medium in their lives,” Mr Hart said.
Agencies such as Caritas Australia, Catholic Mission, Young Christian Students (YCS) and the St Vincent de Paul Society were involved in festival workshops.
Others with displays included BoysTown, the Canossian Sisters, the Marist Asia-Pacific Solidarity and Edmund Rice Camps.
Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Mission director David McGovern said the “natural energy and enthusiasm of (the) young people (at i-Witness) was … inspiring and humbling”.
“The two workshops Catholic Mission conducted attracted fifteen and (then) twenty-one participants respectively and there was certainly an openness to our focal issue of street children,” Mr McGovern said.
“The key messages we reflected on were the need to recognise the God-given dignity inherent in all human beings, including street kids, and the need for each of us to be sources of hope when it comes to responding to issues of social injustice.”
Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane celebrated the early-evening Mass and called on young people to “remember what a tremendous gift God has given us with life”.
“We exist because God loves us,” Archbishop Bathersby said.
“Just remember how quickly your lives pass (and) … together with others we need to make a difference in the world, otherwise we will be the most miserable of people.
“We don’t have to do world-shaking works in order to change the world but like (St) Therese and (St) Francis we can change the world through simple acts of love.”
Youth and Children’s Ministry Team member Christine Anderson described the worship during the Mass led by youth from the North East Deanery as “particularly uplifting”.
“One particularly moving section was the hymn sung after Communion with the hand-signing of the words,” she said.
Mass was followed by a barbecue dinner and concert highlighting the faith and talents of Roby Curtis, Abraham Bol and “Project Hatch”.
Mr Hart said: “They delivered a repertoire of songs to an enthusiastic crowd, closing the night with a renewed vigour to strive for social justice.”
The festival was a joint project of Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and the Archdiocesan Commission for Ministry with Young People.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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