The festival gave young people an opportunity to connect with like-minded youth, in an environment designed to foster an understanding of their faith through worship, workshops and song.
Maitland-Newcastle participant, Claire McWilliam, was empowered by the experience and felt her faith was strengthened, as a result. “Being able to spend that time with 3,000 others and share with each other made faith come alive,” said Ms McWilliam.
More than 60 exhibitors offered interactive stalls and games, where youth could gather information or participate in activities such as ‘human foosball’, all centred around the festival theme, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," (Mt 5: 8). The theme, set by Pope Francis earlier this year for World Youth Day 2016, encourages happiness in seeking God during each individual’s faith journey. Pope Francis also delivered a special message to youth at the festival, via Vicar General of Adelaide, Fr Phillip Marshall, urging pilgrims to become, “Spirit-filled evangelisers who pray and work for the spread of the Gospel, the conversion of culture and the care of the poor and marginalised in society.”
Bishops, priests and religious from across Australia also gathered at the festival to spend time getting to know the young Church, answer questions and huddle in for selfies. The event also attracted a popular line up of presenters, both international and local including motivational speaker, Jason Evert, Sr Hilda Scott OSB, musicians, Steve Angrisano, Fr Rob Galea, Genevieve Bryant and Gary Pinto.
During the closing plenary, Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, announced 2018 as a ‘Year of Youth’ and also announced the next ACYF, to be held in 2017, will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney.