Maitland-Newcastle heads to ACYF: Day 1 (Newcastle - Sydney)

It’s 9:30pm. I worked all day, then hopped on a train from Newcastle to Central, then another train from Central to Sydney Airport. But, strangely, I feel at peace.

Maitland-Newcastle’s pilgrims have a fantastic way of making you feel like you’re part of the family, even when they’ve never met you before... “We love you,” they say. “You’re in for a treat!”

We’re all on our way to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (or ‘ACYF’, for short), taking place between 8-10 December this year, in Perth.

This year’s theme is ‘Listen to what the Spirit is saying’ (Rev 2:7). At first, I thought this was simply about paying attention to what God tells us. But, after speaking to several of our pilgrims, it appears there’s more to it than I originally thought!

“I find it to be as much about listening to my own spirit as it is about listening to the spirit of God,” one pilgrim told me. “Life can get so crazy. It’s good to stop and take it all in every now and then,” another said.

So, as I write this tonight, I’ve taken the time to dig deep and listen to what my spirit is saying, and how I feel prior to the commencement of ACYF this Sunday.

Well, a few things I know for sure: I feel welcomed, I feel loved, and I definitely feel like I’m a part of something special.

With ACYF itself still to come, I can’t wait to see how my understanding of this theme grows and changes over the next 9 days.

Tomorrow, the journey continues as we make the trip from Sydney to Perth. Having never pilgrimed before, I’m assured the trip to and from ACYF is just as much a part of the experience as the festival itself.

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Alexander Foster Image
Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle