Some thoughts by Claire McWilliam

Open new horizons for spreading joy

What a theme for an amazing, awesome and massive youth event.

Close to 20 000 youth attended the third ACYF encounter in Sydney on 7-9th December.

ACYF (Australian Catholic Youth Festival) is an event for young people to be inspired by other young Australian Catholics. To have their voice be heard. To form relationships with others in their Diocese and over Australia. To provide a high quality formative and experiential opportunity for young Catholics.

Listen to and discuss the issues and challenges in the lives of young Catholics in Australia;

Evangelise young people and empower them to be evangelisers;

Provide young people with local examples and connections of vocations, social action, liturgy and prayer, catholic music and catechesis.

Being uplifted and inspired not only by the youth (church of today) but also the speakers and musicians.

We had overseas musicians; Matt Maher and Steve Angrisano.

Our national awesome singer Fr Rob Galea.

We got moved by Gary and Natasha Pinto. We were blessed to have the WYD (World Youth Day) 2008 theme song ‘Receive the power’ played.

As a person who has been to the last two ACYF. I had high hopes for another mountain top experience.

This ACYF didn’t disappoint.

Was amazing!!!!!

I got to be a small group leader for 8 young women.

At first I was hesitant and so were they.

By the end of the three days we didn’t want to leave each other. Being able to steer them to encounter Jesus to help them in their faith journey.

Hearing the young women be vulnerable but see them blossom and inspire others over just a short three days.

ACYF has workshops, live music, prayer and worship.

In the morning and afternoons, you gather as one. unfortunately, we were late for the morning sessions but what we did see was inspiring people share their story and faith.

Being able to speak with our local priests and Bishop but also encounter and speak with priests and bishops from around the nation is something special.

As a young person who feels alone at church as the only young person in the pews on the weekend to seeing 20 000 young people feels me with joy and hope.

Over the three days catching up with people from our diocese but also others who I have met at other church events makes you feel loved.

Being reminded that you are loved, you are a child of God, you are not alone. Having Conversations with other like-minded people.

The pilgrimage walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a highlight. Being crammed on a train with high-spirited people.

Off the train and over the bridge with singing and happy people. A few breaks and we were at the Domain with close to 25 000 people!

At the end we were invited to the next ACYF2019 in Perth!

I can’t wait and will look forward to meeting more young Catholics again!