Day 3: The pilgrimage walk to the Final Mass
In many ways the whole ACYF journey was leading to this moment. All of the faith formation sessions, plenaries, talks, workshops, and expo sites helped prepare our students for the the pilgrimage walk to Trinity College and the final mass celebrated by Archbishop of Perth Tim Costelloe and priests from around Australia. Earlier in the day we had the pleasure to meet up with all of the pilgrims from the Sydney Archdiocese for a special gathering with Archbishop Anthony Fisher and auxiliary bishop Richard Umbers. The gathering involved music, testimony, and a Q&A with the two bishops. It was great hearing Archbishop Fisher speak so passionately about the important role that the youth have in determining the future of Catholic Church. His grace told the gathering of youth from all over Sydney that he was determined to ensure that young people are given a voice within the church. At the conclusion of the gathering many of the GSCC pilgrims asked the archbishop to bless their various religion items before posing got a photo with our students. From there our students again toured through the many talks and expos in offer in the convention centre. Some of these included interfaith discussions, adoration, lectio divina, and concerts involving some of the special guests such as Steve Agrisano. After lunch it was time to prepare for the pilgrimage walk. The GSCC group were brimming with excitement and anticipation as it got closer to the walk. Hats were firmly placed and sunscreen liberally applied to protect from the 30 plus degree weather outside. As the walk commenced the pilgrims soon began belting out some of the songs picked up while at the festival. The walk ended at the school grounds of Trinity Grammar where we soon found a spot in the shade for the final mass. Lines for all of the food places were incredibly long so our group entertained eachother during the lead up to the mass, with some of the Year 10s watching the live stream of the presentation evening that was taking place all the way back at Good Sam. Whenever one of the pilgrims' names were announced for an award they all cheered eachother on in solidarity for their fellow ACYF members. Before long the Mass began and it was so pleasing to see the reverence of our students throughout the whole mass. While the food places remained open our students stuck together and prayed together. It was a beautiful mass that featured music performed by none other than festival favourite Fr Rob Galea. At the conclusion of mass Archbishop Costelloe revealed that he could not announce the location of the next ACYF but instead said that it would be held in one of the rural centres in Australia. The countdown to ACYF 2021 had begun! Once mass had concluded our GSCC group hugged each other and formed a circle where many tears and smiles were all around. As I looked at the circle of GSCC students I could have been more proud of each of them. They had come from different groups and began the experience at different stages along their own faith journey but in their own words had become a family. The walk back to the buses was filled with laughter and song which continued all the way back to the resort. When we arrived back Ms Flett and I gathered the group in a circle once more to share how proud we were of them. The group then spoke one by one about what ACYF had meant to them. The tears soon tell once again with hardly a dry eye amongst the 18 pilgrims. The next post will feature the testimonies of each of the pilgrims but I will finish this report by saying that I was truly blessed and inspired by this wonderful group of young people. If these sixteen students are representative of the young church then the Catholic Church is truly in good hands.