The Australian Catholic Youth Festival: pilgrimage and Closing Mass

Bishop Mark Edwards OMI got the final day of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival under way by leading Morning Mass. Bishop Edwards is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and is the Episcopal Vicar for Tertiary Education and Youth.

Following mass, the gathering of  the Catholic youth were free to wander Sydney Olympic Park and attend workshops and events at their leisure for the rest of the day.

One of the more memorable events of the day included a talk by Sister Hilda Scott OSB. Sister Hilda was a favourite throughout the festival and her talk on the closing day was no exception. She spoke to a crowd of young people about understanding God’s love and the unquantifiable depth of the love He has for His children. She said that, once you begin to fully understand God’s love for you, the vision He has for your life becomes clear.

Later in the day, Sister Therese Mills MGL delivered a sermon about new ways of being religious in today’s modern world. She spoke about the unexpected ways in which you can practice religion and glorify God in your life by pointing to examples of Brothers and Priests who love Bollywood dancing and an MGL Sister who performs magic - the latter Sister Therese dubbed a Nunagician. The message of Sister Therese’s talk was that, through using your unique gifts and talents for the glorification of God, you can experience the full awe and vibrancy of the Spirit.

While the final day of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival was filled with enlightening moments of spirituality and a deepening of faith for many, the highlight of the day was the Pilgrimage to The Domain in Sydney for the Closing Mass.

The Pilgrimage began at Milsons Point and took the throngs of young people across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The weather for the Pilgrimage was perfect - and the views from the Harbour Bridge were nothing short of astounding. As the young people walked, everyone was in high spirits.

The enthusiasm of the day continued into the Closing Mass where the Catholic youth were joined by thousands of fellow Catholics from Sydney and throughout Australia.

Leading up to the Closing Mass, Anthony Fish OP, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, had issued a statement that no vigil Masses would be celebrated in the Archdiocese of Sydney on 9 December – this in the hope that the Catholic faithful would join the young Pilgrims at the Domain.This no doubt played a part in the Closing Mass becoming Australia’s largest mass since World Youth Day which was held in Sydney in 2008.

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