Maitland-Newcastle heads to ACYF: Day 2 (Sydney - Perth)

5:30am is a fairly unfamiliar hour of the morning to me, so you can imagine my delight stepping out of the elevator at this time to see 30+ young pilgrims, chipper and excited to take the next steps on their journey towards the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF).

There was an unexpectedly electric energy in the room for such an early hour. Some pilgrims were flipping through the official ACYF app together, others were discussing the presenters they were most looking forward to seeing. Some even seemed unable to stand still due to excitement.

The pilgrims of Maitland-Newcastle today made the trip from Sydney to Perth, the city hosting this year’s ACYF.

After a seamless plane ride, ages 18+ pilgrims had free reign in their choice of activities for the afternoon. Most chose to take in their new surroundings, dedicating the time to exploring the many sights, sounds and smells of Perth, whilst others chose to seek refuge from the 40 degree weather indoors.

The small group I spent most of the morning with was made up of John, Jessica and Jarrod; three veteran ACYF pilgrims who had lots of knowledge and experience to share about the festival.

“There’s honestly so many sessions to choose from,” Jessica said of the festival’s program. “If you like social justice-type stuff, there’s plenty of sessions involving that type of thing.”

St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth Mint and Elizabeth Quay were just some of the places John, Jessica and Jarrod led me, but did the early rise and full morning of exploring the city slow Maitland-Newcastle’s pilgrims down? No way. For dinner, almost the entire group made their way to Fremantle to enjoy dinner together whilst watching the sun set over the water.

No one had to say much. It was clear that this was a deeply moving experience for many members of the group.

“I think it’s extra special because you don’t get to see the sun set over the water on the east coast,” group leader Renata said of the experience.

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Alexander Foster Image
Alexander Foster

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