Youth festival opens in Melbourne
The theme of the inaugural Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF), ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ (Luke 4:18), was brought to life as more than 3000 young people from around Australia gathered for the opening plenary at Festival Hall in Melbourne this afternoon.
The event kicked off the three day celebration of what it means to be young and Catholic. It is the largest national gathering of Catholic young people since Sydney’s World Youth Day in 2008.
Darwin’s Bishop Eugene Hurley welcomed participating youth, priests and bishops to the festival, before Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, greeted the young people on behalf of Pope Francis.
The ACYF Animators Dance troupe had the crowd up on their feet learning the first sequence of a specially choreographed dance. The crowd danced in the aisles to the jubilant strains of Imagine Dragons' 'On top of the world'.
The two hour plenary then entered a time of prayer and reflection, beginning with the procession of the ACYF symbols, which will remain on the main stage until the ACYF comes to a close on Saturday night.
The Gospel passage containing the festival’s theme was then read, followed by James Edwards performing the ACYF theme song Your Spirit, which he composed for the festival.
Newly installed Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn, Archbishop Christopher Prowse gave a shout out to youth from each state, as well as Australia’s indigenous participants, drawing loud cheers and applause from an energetic and appreciative crowd.
Archbishop Prowse called young people to reflect on their participation in the ACYF and their individual Catholic vocation in the light of three great questions inspired by St Ignatius of Loyola: What has God done for me? What have I done for God? and What do I want to do for God in my life?
Following Archbishop Prowse’s inspiring address, Tessa Ganley from Port Pirie in South Australia, delivered a powerful message, calling on her fellow participants at the ACYF to be the change they want to see in the world and not to turn a blind eye.
'The spirit of the Lord is upon us!' she said in conclusion.
Steve Angrisano then took to the stage to lead the young crowd in prayerful song, before giving a powerful testimony of his experience of nuns witnessing to their Catholic mission by being a living reflection of God to the world.
'We should wake up and see that there is a world we can change,' he said with heartfelt enthusiasm.
The opening plenary came to a close in prayer and song.
The young crowd then made its way to the Australian Catholic University for a jam-packed evening of speakers, performers, workshops and activities.