Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn has urged the youth in his diocese to answer the call to holiness, telling them there is no excuse not to become saints. Bishop Dunn addressed more than 2000 young people in his homily at the concluding Mass of the two-day World Youth Day Auckland celebration. The event, which concluded at the Victory Convention Centre at Freeman’s Bay, was held on July 14-15.
He cited Pope Francis’ recent pastoral letter, Rejoice and Be Glad, which was a call to holiness.
“Pope Francis says we are all called to be saints. He says, Jesus isn’t interested in our little petty failings. He says what Jesus looks at is the entirety of my life from beginning to end,” he said.
Bishop Dunn said even St Paul, who participated in the stoning of St Stephen, wasn’t perfect.
“St Paul says that God chose us before the world began. Isn’t that an amazing thought? Before the world began, God chose us to be holy and to live in love in his presence forever. That’s our calling. We are called to be saints,” he said.
Bishop Dunn told NZ Catholic he was encouraged “by the large numbers present, especially on such a cold and wet Sunday afternoon”.
“Everyone loved the food that was awaiting them on arrival at the Victory Centre! It was great to see so many youth groups present, many with their own colourful logos on t-shirts and sweatshirts. The WYD band really engaged with the young people present which was great to see,” he said.
The first day of the event was dedicated as regional celebrations.
On the second day, the huge group gathered at the convention centre. They were then divided into two age-groups: under-21 and 21-and-over.
The talks for both groups were filled with teachings on the faith. The younger group listened to speakers on topics such as social justice, the Eucharist and Mother Mary.
The 21-and-over age group discussed delicate issues such as “educating young people (especially Pacifica) on issues of sexuality, addressing the sexual abuse crisis for the Church, and issues of domestic abuse and imprisonment for young people, especially those in the Pacific Island community”, according to Bishop Dunn.
Youth and young adult ministry programme leader Joey Bonnevie said organisers tried to link this year’s celebration with the youth synod held by the diocese early in the year and with the coming synod of bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment
“One of the priorities for the youth that came out of the Auckland youth synod was that young people wanted more catechesis. So, we tried to respond to that,” he said.
Mr Bonnevie said inclusiveness was also a priority for young people. “The celebration of the Mass tried to reflect that,” he said.
The concluding Mass was a mixture of reverence and exuberance as the Lataki Tongan group led the Gospel procession with a contingent dressed in their native costumes.
The Malaeola Samoan community, on the other hand, led the music as well as the offertory procession.
The prayers of the faithful were read in different languages while the response was made in New Zealand Sign Language.
Bishop Dunn said the Mass was a great celebration of faith.
“I am extremely grateful to the youth ministry team for the massive organisation that supported this event, and the dozens and dozens of adult volunteers who supported this event in so many ways, ranging from transporting the young people to the gathering to crowd control at the event,” he said.
“The young people presenting were outstanding and renewed my confidence for the future of the Church in Auckland and in Aotearoa New Zealand.”