by SHANA LLORANDO
Young people, you are the Church of today!
This was the theme of World Youth Day Auckland 2017, held on July 15-16.
The weekend consisted of regional events on the Saturday, and prayer at the cathedral, a “pilgrim walk”, an afternoon programme of praise and worship and sessions and a Diocesan Youth Mass on Sunday.
This was also the first World Youth Day Auckland event to have visitors from overseas, namely the St Joseph’s Avarua Catholic Youth from Rarotonga. The Auckland Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry team (ACYM) organised the weekend seeking to answer one question: What did they want the young people participating to take away from World Youth Day Auckland 2017?
ACYM wanted young people to know that they had a part to play in the Church and in the world, and this was showcased through the regional events held on the Saturday.
Youth leaders of South, Central and North Shore areas were given an opportunity to plan, prepare and carry out their own regional event, with support from the ACYM team.
This resulted in unique events full of fun, fellowship, food and faith, tailor-made to the young people of each region.
Not only do young people have a part to play, but they need to start today and every day, and this was a call made from the leaders of St Anne’s iRise Youth Group from Manurewa who led the prayer at the cathedral on the Sunday. Through praise and worship and powerful spoken word, young people were called to praise God every moment of their lives, not just when it’s convenient.
Another “takeaway” that the ACYM team wanted for the young people was to share their “burning hearts” for God, and this was showcased through the pilgrim walk from St Patrick’s Cathedral to the Victory Convention Centre near Victoria Park.
Those who walked encountered individuals with vocation stories at “Ask Me” stations placed sporadically throughout the routes.
These people of varying vocations shared their burning hearts for God through their testimony, encouraging the young people to do the same.
Each youth group was also asked to make a chant to be shared during the “roll-call” segment of the afternoon, expressing the young people’s energetic and “burning hearts” with enthusiasm!
Finally, aligning with the upcoming Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment, the ACYM team wanted to encourage young people to see that they are valued and have a say, and this was on display during the “couch sessions” in the Sunday afternoon programme.
A group of youth from all over Auckland sat on the famous ACYM couches that were put on stage, as they shared their concerns, hopes and dreams with Bishop Patrick Dunn and ACYM team leader Teresa McNamara.
It was a great way to model the spirit of the synod in which the young people used their voice, while those older animated the process.
In his homily during the Diocesan Youth Mass, Bishop Dunn spoke about the sowing of the seed, the Gospel for that Sunday.
He affirmed the young people as fruit of the seed of Christianity sown some 2000 years ago.
Likewise, if the energetic and faithful young people of Auckland are the Church of today, we can safely say that the future of the Church will bear much fruit indeed.