News | Year of Youth in full swing in the Diocese of Wollongong

Posted 10 April 2018 by Catholic Education in News

The Australian Bishops have put a call out to young Catholics to engage with the Church, celebrate and be celebrated in a declared ‘Year of Youth’. From the launch in Sydney to within our secondary schools since, Diocese of Wollongong students have responded in great numbers and even greater enthusiasm.

Across Australia, Catholic communities have been invited to join in a national
Year of Youth for the 2018 liturgical year, from the beginning of Advent 2017 (Sunday 3rd December 2017) to the end of Ordinary Time in 2018 (Sunday 25th November 2018).

Inspired by Pope Francis’ World Youth Day 2016 speech where he called young people and the Church to ‘open new horizons for spreading joy’, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has acknowledged the special importance of nurturing the spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of our young people, and has invited them to respond to Jesus at work in their lives.

Australian Catholic Youth Festival

Ten years on from hosting World Youth Day 2008, Sydney again played host to a national gathering of young Catholics, this time to launch the year at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.

From 7th - 9th December 2017, 351 students and 46 staff from CEDoW and congregational secondary schools including St John’s, Nowra; St Joseph’s, Albion Park; Corpus Christi, Oak Flats; Holy Spirit, Bellambi; John Therry, Rosemeadow; St Benedict’s, Oran Park; Magdalene, Narellan; Mount Carmel, Varroville; and St Patrick’s, Campbelltown gathered at Sydney Olympic Park to experience large-scale concerts and masses, keynote speakers, the incomparable ‘Hangin’ with Hilda’ sessions and many, many opportunities for singing and dancing, worship, reflection and action.

The formative 3-day program was full of smaller workshops, group sessions and Q&A discussions tackling a variety of issues and challenges in the lives of young Catholics in Australia: from indigenous spirituality to dating, from leadership to the digital world to being catholic in the secular world. There was outdoor music and activities on offer, as well as a global village, virtual reality games, and a social justice centre with hundreds of Catholic agencies offering information, workshops and ways to help those in need.

Our Diocese led the charge with creative elements of the Festival, with CEDoW Education Officer, Tim Hart, winning the competition for official ACYF theme song with his ‘Joyful Generation’, and then CEDoW students performing and teaching the rest of the nation’s thousands of pilgrims their actions to the song - a dance which quickly spread across the whole festival.

The event culminated in a pilgrimage from Milson’s Point, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and to The Domain, where over 20,000 people gathered to take part in the Festival’s final outdoor mass.

CEDoW Youth Ministry Education Officer, Joel Duval, said the great sense of community and excitement at the event was palpable.

“It was simply incredible to see the young Wollongong pilgrims engage in their faith in such a charismatic, reverent and joy-filled way,” he said.

Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator, Seth Harsh, agreed: “ACYF was an amazing opportunity for young people all over Australia to be reminded that they are not alone in the practice of their faith and that moreover, with their contribution, the Catholic Church is an exciting, fulfilling, empowering and life-changing thing to be a part of."  [See our photo gallery here.]

1712 ACYF

ACYF set the tone for the Year of Youth, which has continued here in the Diocese of Wollongong. Retreats for our schools’ Youth Ministry Co-ordinators and Youth Ministry Leaders have already taken place in Term 1, as has a reconnector event in February that saw all our ACYF pilgrims gather again, this time at Mt Carmel Catholic High School in Varroville. It was an opportunity for students to debrief about their Festival experience, share memories, hear a special speech from our Bishop Emeritus Peter Ingham and join in a fantastic ‘Hangin’ with Hilda’ session run by Sister Hilda herself.

Year of Youth 2018: Looking ahead

The Catholic Youth Ministry Wollongong (CYMW) Team has a fantastic rest of 2018 planned, including:

  • three LIVE events (lunchtime concert and in-school retreat) at every systemic Catholic secondary school in the Diocese, spread throughout the year;
  • a day-long LIVE Festival in August featuring live music, workshops and activities, great food, inspirational speakers and special guests.
  • feast day celebrations at each systemic Catholic secondary school in the Diocese;
  • a number of Year 6 masses and Year 12 gatherings with Bishop Brian Mascord;
  • World Youth Day 2019 formation days across the Diocese; and
  • winter sleepouts and spirituality days across the Diocese.

Duval and Harsh said their hope for the Year of Youth is that young people “take up the challenge to enter into a relationship with God” and grow “through the practice of their faith in the everyday, and through participating in the many initiatives run throughout the Diocese of Wollongong”.

“I wish for our young people, especially those who feel they don’t have a place in the Catholic Church or that the Catholic faith has nothing to offer them, that they will come to discover the transformative and life-giving power that can only come from a connection to God,” Harsh said.

“I also hope we see a continued growth and excitement about Youth Ministry in our Diocese and that all youth feel supported to journey deeper into their faith,” Duval added.

Upcoming LIVE Events

School

Date

Lunchtime Concert

LIVE Retreat

TERM 2

Magdalene
CHS

Friday
May 4

12:15pm-1:00pm

2:45pm-9:00pm

Mt Carmel
College

Friday
May 18

1:10pm-1:40pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

Holy Spirit
College

Wednesday
May 23

12:40pm-1:20pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

John Therry
CHS

Friday
May 25

12:50pm-1:20pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

Corpus Christi
CHS

Thursday
May 31

All Day

3:30pm-6:30pm

St John’s
CHS

Friday
June 1

11:00am-11:40am

3:00pm-6:00pm

St Benedict’s
College

Friday
June 15

12:15pm-12:50pm

3:00pm-6:00pm

St Joseph’s
CHS

Friday
June 22

1:01pm-1:41pm

3:45pm-6:45pm

TERM 3

Holy Spirit
College

Wednesday
July 25

12:40pm-1:20pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

John Therry
CHS

Friday
August 3

12:50pm-1:20pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

Corpus Christi
CHS

Wednesday
August 15

12:55pm-1:25pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

Magdalene
CHS

Wednesday
August 22

12:15pm-1:00pm

3:00pm-6:00pm

LIVE FESTIVAL - Friday August 31 - 9:30am-8:30pm

St John’s
CHS

Thursday
September 6

10:50am-11:30am

1:00pm-3:00pm

St Benedict’s
College

Friday
September 7

12:15pm-12:50pm

3:00pm-6:00pm

TERM 4

Mt Carmel
College

Friday
November 2

1:10pm-1:40pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

Magdalene
CHS

Friday
November 16

12:15pm-1:00pm

3:00pm-6:00pm

Holy Spirit
College

Wednesday
November 21

12:40pm-1:20pm

3:30pm-6:30pm

St Benedict’s
College

Friday
November 30

12:15pm-12:50pm

3:00pm-6:00pm

St Joseph’s
CHS

Friday
December 7

1:01pm-1:41pm

3:45pm-6:45pm

The Year of Youth is an opportunity for the Catholic Church in Australia to acknowledge and value the important, life-giving presence of young people in our local churches and society; and encourage active engagement and dialogue with our young people, working together with the Holy Spirit, to reconnect and renew our Church. 


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