Sr Grace Roclawska, CSFN
It has already been over a month since the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) was held in Sydney (7-9 December 2017). Over nineteen thousand young Catholics who came from all around Australia to experience and spread the joy of the Gospel have now returned to their homes and hopefully right now are enjoying the fun and rest of the summer holidays. While praying for all the young people I met and for those who could not be at ACYF, I asked myself and some sisters to reflect on these three days and the impact they had on our personal lives, our interactions with others and our hopes for young people in Australia.
The common highlight for most of us was the POWER OF PERSONAL AND COMMUNITY ENCOUNTERS experienced through and with young people. Sr. Bogumila was touched by the power of prayer with the youth, especially the silence during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. She writes: the enthusiasm of the youth and their responses to what was happening was just astonishing and amazing.
Sr. Rita Apura appreciated the vibrant energy of the youth and the sense of “home” at the Festival. For her, the festival was like coming home to a family that is not perfect, a family that will fight to make the family whole as one. Young people experienced being listened to and being welcomed.
Our novice, Sr. Sophie Boffa, felt privileged speaking with young people: they shared their stories, hopes and dreams with me…they valued being in this comfortable space and I could see that many of them were feeling more empowered and encouraged to simply be themselves: Catholic youth!
ACYF calls us to share the JOY of our VOCATION and COMMUNITY SPIRIT. For Sr Christine Ramada, the highlight was being with sisters. She says: I think singing spontaneously in the train and at the platform was a gift of the Holy Spirit. We all know and have at the back of our minds (if you are like me) that there are people out there who might be offended but that didn’t stop us. The hype from ACYF and being with each other must have given us the courage to do what we did. In Sr. Bogumila’s heart the words of Emily Wilson resonated the most: We have to remember our deepest identity as a DAUGHTER OF GOD. It makes us strong and empowered. We are walking with our Lord. A woman who believes in God and in herself is strong, brave and she is who she is, who God created her to be.
Each of us felt called to CONTINUE LIVING the ACYF spirit. Sister Christine feels encouraged to share the hope of ACYF with her community and our province. She says: The young people need our support and guidance…I recognise that I have to start in myself if I expect others to do the same. Sr Rita sees the need of sharing her experience and memories in her local and parish communities. She says that in this way, I can encourage Sisters to join me in talking about what can we do to enhance our desire to work with young people. They might have some idea as well… as I attend my local parish church I want to stay connected with young people through singing, faith sharing and fellowship.
PRAYER and PRESENCE with young people is something we all want to continue. For Sr Sophie, it’s important to make the time to be with and care for young Catholics that we are for them and we care. Ultimately, she says, the simplest and the most important thing we can do for our young people is pray for them every day.
For full stories of ACYF experiences shared by some of our sisters go to: www.csfn.org.au