Home' Aurora : Aurora February 2013 Contents More than
just a "world
Football is often referred to as
'the world game', and every four
years, fans gather to support
their country in the World Cup. To
play in a World Cup a country must
take on a series of gruelling qualifying
matches just to compete. The hopes
of a nation can be pinned on one
penalty kick or the outstretched
hand of a goal keeper. A little more
frequently the Catholic Church holds
its own global event, World Youth Day.
There's no qualifying and hopes are
pinned on the outstretched hand of
Jesus. As preparations build for Rio
2013, Aurora spoke with three young
Catholics who opened up about their
faith, the challenges the Church faces
and why young people should head
to Brazil in July.
How would you describe WYD in
Madrid in 2011?
James It was an amazing experience; we
visited a town which had been continually
settled since the fourth century BC. Just to
be in a place that had a continuity of faith
and community was quite surprising. So, I
found it very worthwhile.
Sarah It was just brilliant, it was one of those
once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Even though
I'd been to World Youth Day in Sydney, it
was a completely different experience to be
immersed in another culture.
Harry It was a very relaxed and
comfortable way to explore my faith and to
meet new people. It's a worthwhile event
for any young Catholic.
How was it as a spiritual
James For me, you lose some of the
spirituality because of the large crowds and
the hype, but we had a couple of very good
prayer sessions with our group of people
from the diocese.
Sarah It was a very spiritual experience. You
grow within your own spirituality but it also
evolves within the group. To be able to pray
together or to have a conversation after an
event deepens that spirituality.
Harry Our little group went to Spain and had
a debrief every day. It was very enlightening.
Our catechesis (teaching by a bishop)
sessions were all very worthwhile.
What about WYD as a community
James I thought it was a pretty good
community experience. Over there we
formed connections with people who
we've maintained friendships with since
Sarah I think it's being part of something
much bigger. People go there from all over
the world and we all go there for that one
reason, with that one belief in God. It's a
Harry I met lots of new friends whom I'm
still in touch with now. It's a great way to
build community. You meet people from
other parishes in the diocese, from around
Australia and the whole world.
Did anything surprise you?
James I was surprised by the differences
between the traditional European
Catholicism and our Catholicism to some
degree. Their Stations of the Cross for
example surprised me a little bit.
Sarah With the Stations of the Cross, there
was such a focus on the statues when
compared to our Australian one. It was
so alive and dramatic (in Sydney) but their
traditions were based on the statues.
Harry I think our group had been pretty
well prepared. We met up a few times
before we went over. Overall, nothing
greatly surprised me.
Will you go to Rio?
James I'm not sure, I'm considering it.
Why I would like to go is largely because of
community. We've got a really good group
of people going who are part of a newly
forming community in the diocese.
Sarah Yes, I am going. I'm very excited to
go to Brazil and experience another World
Youth Day in another culture. Because I've
been asked to lead is another big reason.
Harry I'm still juggling whether I will or won't.
It's only because of finances that I wouldn't
go. There are many reasons to go, it's a
community building event, it's faith building
and it's lots of fun.
How would you describe your
James I always find it lacking. I see all these
other holy people around and they have
such steadfast faith in God and make God
the centre of everything they do. It's difficult.
Sarah Evolving, ever growing. My faith
started as many people's does with family
and being raised in a Catholic home. But it's
continued with experiences and coming to
know God through people.
Harry To use a metaphor I'd call it a "bud."
I'm still growing into it, still developing. I've
got quite a way to go but it's definitely there.
Are you proud to be a Catholic? Do
you share your faith with others?
James Yes, I am proud. There's a huge
amount of tradition and wisdom. It not only
emerges from Jesus and his teachings
but two thousand years of reflection on life
and what it's about. I do share it with other
people, more so through action and being
honest about being a Catholic.
Sarah Yes, I am proud to be Catholic and
I readily share it with people. I guess you
always need to tread lightly around the
subject. I'd say I'm never inclined to push it
on people but when people feel free to talk
about it, I enjoy sharing my views.
Harry Yeah, I think so as much as you can.
You don't force it on people who aren't
interested. But, yes I'm a proud Catholic. I
live my life to the best of my ability within our
Has the Royal Commission into
child sexual abuse changed your
view of the church?
James Not really, it hasn't surprised me.
We've been confronting issues of child abuse
in Newcastle for quite a long time. You don't
reject Jesus' teachings because a small
number of people who've professed to follow
them have actually acted to the contrary.
Sarah It's really hard, disappointing and
sad. It's never ok for people's lives to be
disrespected. But, it's got to the point now
where bad things have happened and
people go straight to the negative and forget
the positive work of the Church.
Harry No, it hasn't. There's always going
to be those few who make bad decisions,
but it's not a representation of the entire
If you were Pope for the day,
what's the first thing you'd
James I'd try to separate core church
teachings from non-essential traditions that
have become attached over the years. In
a universal church, it is important that local
communities can worship in a way that
reflects their cultural heritage while remaining
true to the teachings of Jesus. The church
is struggling in many modern democratic
countries where individuals expect more
of a say in the direction their community
takes. Somehow we need to find the line
between being true to God and not just a
weathervane to public opinion, but at the
same time, open and flexible enough to
meet the needs of individual worshipping
communities. That's where I'd start.
Sarah In some ways we get stuck with
the traditions and there's no room for
movement. Sometimes I feel that makes it
really inaccessible to a lot of people. Like the
changes in the Mass and whether the time
and effort that went into that really made a
lot of difference.
Harry I'd either ensure that Latin is taught
within schools or not use Latin within
the Mass during WYD. I figure if they are
using Latin in the Mass and no one can
understand it then it loses its meaning.
James Elliott, 27 is the Chair of the Diocesan
Council for Ministry with Young People. Sarah
Abrahamse, 24 is a WYD Diocesan Group
Leader and Harry Gibson, 18, belongs to
the next generation of young Catholics in
the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Find out
about Rio 2013 at www.mn.catholic.org.au/
Diocesan pilgrims in Madrid at WYD 2011.
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
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