The Year of Youth, for me, began with a lot of uncertainty. As a young adult being brought up in a Catholic family, I began the year questioning whether my faith was really my own. It had become apparent that attending and being involved in our local parish felt more like a habitual routine rather than a personal spiritual choice. And for a reason unbeknownst to me at the time, I had also recently decided to become more involved in youth ministry by becoming a youth leader at our parish, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Sunnybank. In this new role, I found myself feeling ill-prepared to support other young members of my community in their journey of faith, when I felt that I had yet to begin my own. I felt compelled to delve deeper in my search for answers and I decided to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF), held in Sydney that year.
ACYF was nothing like I expected it to be. Seeing over 15,000 youth and young adults actively in search for truth and on individual journeys of faith, was truly an awe-inspiring experience. It gave me the opportunity to meet other young adults that were also in search for what their faith meant to them and made me realise that I was not alone in the questions that I had about my faith. The theme of “open[ing] new horizons for spreading joy; joy that is born of God’s love” empowered the youth to think about how their faith can positively impact not only their own lives, but also the lives of many others. This event was a powerful display of God’s work in the lives of many and reminded me of just how blessed I am in so many facets of my life. The acts of collective prayer, reflection, dance, song and silence made me realise that I may never have all the answers, but that is, in essence, what faith is all about; faith despite the uncertainty. There are so many blessings this experience has given me, but in the words of Steve Angrisano during the closing plenary of ACYF, I am reminded that “it will never matter that you came here, and it will never matter where you go, as close as your breath is to you, God is to you always”. With this closing thought, although I cannot begin to fathom what the rest of the journey will bring, I can trust that I won’t ever have to do it alone.