The vibe on the first day at the Sydney Showground, was electric. Thousands of kids from across the country filled the open spaces near and around ANZ stadium as they burst from countless buses with big smiles on their faces and excitement in their eyes. Soon the place was buzzing like a beehive, reflecting the vitality which is the hallmark of the Year of Youth.
The festivities began inside a crowded Qudos Bank Arena where an eager audience listened to a message from the Holy Father Pope Francis wishing all those who attended the festival to have a gratifying and enriching experience. He urged attendees to use the festival as a tool to “deepen their relationship with the Lord and to offer the Church and society the message of faith which is ‘a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on’.”
Following the reading of a message from Pope Francis, Matt Maher took to the stage to get the crowd energised and impassioned ahead of the day’s events. He certainly got the crowd rocking.
The audience also enjoyed an interpretive dance troupe whose dance number reflected on the tumult and trials of 2017. To close off the Opening Plenary, a song from a chorus of singers delighted the crowd who waved lights in a show of support that created a stunning effect reminiscent of thousands of fireflies.
Christian rock/folk artist, Steve Angrisano, performed later in the day for a crowd at ACU Entertainment Zone by belting out a few tunes, It was a case of hip hop till ya don’t stop with some freestyle rap with a message.
The performance was followed by a talk by Emily Wilson, a world-renowned Catholic speaker. She preached to a crowd that listened intently while lying on the ground in front of her. Emily shared a message of empowerment for young women and encouraged them to understand who they are, to know their intrinsic worth and value and to not feel the need to attribute that worth from others.
The Australian Catholic Youth Festival continues throughout Friday and Saturday, and will finish off with Closing Mass at the Domain in Sydney Botanical Gardens. You can be a part of the event by following the live webcast here.
The great freedom and strength of the festival is that it allows young people to choose for themselves how they wish to spend the day – be it in a sharing a song with one artist or reflecting on our behaviour in a sermon, all the while bringing them closer to Jesus.