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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
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BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
Speaking to young people recently in Rio
de Janeiro, Pope Francis said, "What do
I expect as a consequence of the World
Youth Day? I expect a mess...I want people
to go out!....I want us to defend ourselves
against everything that is worldliness, that
is installation, that is comfortableness,
that is clericalism, that is being shut-in on
ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the
institutions, exist to go out!
An opportunity for Australian young people
to learn about 'going out and making a
mess' will occur in Melbourne in December.
The Australian Catholic Youth Festival, an
initiative of the Australian Catholic Bishops,
will invite young people "to encounter
Christ through the Catholic Church...
and provide Bishops and Church leaders
an opportunity to listen to and engage
with young people on the issues in their
lives", according to Bishop Anthony Fisher,
Bishops Delegate for Youth.
The theme of the Festival, to be held 5-7
December, is "The Spirit of the Lord is upon
me" (Luke 4:18). Organisers hope that
some 3000 people, from Year 9 students
to 25 year-olds, will gather to participate in
structured workshops, amusements and
empowering experiences, and encounters
with a variety of church organisations and
Diocesan Festival Co-ordinator, Maryanne
Hacker, recently returned from World Youth
Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro, draws a
careful distinction between WYD and the
Festival. "The Festival works in partnership
with WYD. The Festival aims to address
the gap between the local expression of
Church (parish, school, diocese) and the
universal expression of faith and ministry.
It's an opportunity to encounter Christ
in the local, Australian context," said
Special guests at the Festival include
Benedictine Sister Hilda Scott, who
emerged as a contemporary voice of
religious life in the ABC series "The Abbey";
advocate for women and girls and self-
styled "pro-life feminist", Melinda Tankard
Reist and acclaimed musician and youth
minister, Steve Angrisano.
Carmel Bonaventura, 21, of MacKillop
Parish looks forward to attending. "I want
to take the opportunity to deepen my faith
and learn more about how I can actively
animate Jesus' teachings.
"I wish to put in place what Pope Francis
said in his homily when I was in Rio
recently. 'Dear young friends, as you return
to your homes, do not be afraid to be
generous with Christ, to bear witness to his
Gospel.' I wish to continue my pilgrimage
and keep the spirit alive. I'm looking
forward to celebrating my faith with others
who share the same beliefs and values,
and learning more about how I can actively
engage with the issues facing youth today.
"I hope to use this experience to give back
to my community, and allow it to help
shape how I approach my career as an
English, Drama and Religion teacher when I
begin teaching next year."
Maryanne Hacker and James Elliott will
lead the Maitland-Newcastle contingent
and they hope to gather delegates together
pre-Festival to provide formation to enrich
The overall aim and hope of the Festival is
to create that "mess in the dioceses" Pope
Francis talked about in Rio.
To learn more and to register, please visit
www.mn.catholic.org.au where you can
also find out what else is happening in
the diocese for young people. Early bird
registration closes 20 September.
Making a mess with God
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