Home' The Southern Cross : December 2015 Contents Australian Catholic youth have openly
voiced their greatest hopes and deepest
concerns for the future at this month’s
Australian Catholic Youth festival.
And the bishops have been all ears.
Hot topic issues have been the Church's
response to homosexuality, Australia's
poor treatment of asylum seekers and the
need for serious action on climate change.
Festival MC Josh Rajasingam said the top
six issues youth wanted to know more
about at the event were: living Catholic in
a secular world, living pure of heart, how
to remain and build commitment to faith,
effective prayer, living chastely and how to
The hub of discussion between young
people, the bishops and other Church
leaders took place at a festival space
dedicated to engaging in open dialogue
Eleven Xchange conversations were
held throughout the three-day event with
17 bishops engaging with more than
1000 youth on issues spanning from
the digital revolution of social media to
building respectful relationships in a highly
sexualised culture to finding ways for
youth to feel included at Mass.
Xchange coordinator and Australian
Catholic Youth Council member Elise
Ganley said youth had asked bishops
about their take on mining companies in
remote Australia to their desire for shared
responsibility in the Church.
She said youth's comments and questions
had been gathered and will be collated into
a summary for the council.
Darwin Bishop Eugene Hurley, who was
part of the Reconciliation with Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander People session
said the Xchange space and the Festival
as a whole had provided bishops with an
"absolutely imperative" opportunity to
listen to the voices of young people.
"I think youth want the Church to be much
more embracing: to be less insistent on all
the (Church) laws and be much more the
face of Christ in the world," he said.
"They are asking the church to be Christ-
like all the time about everybody."
Fifteen-year-old Asha Kuchel, from Henley
Beach Parish, said global poverty, asylum
seekers and social media were important
issues to her.
Fellow parishioner and St Michael's
College student Claire Jeffries said
women's rights and domestic violence
needed more airplay socially and by the
She said her experience at the youth
festival – her first – had "really affirmed my
faith and my values as a young person and
"The bishops have been really great,"
said Asha. “It's certainly changed my
perspective of bishops and I have much
more confidence in young people being
able to express their faith without being
ACYF Adelaide 2015
EXCHANGE: Darwin Bishop Eugene Hurley meeting Sydney Archdiocese Catholic school students in the festival foyer.
Bishops and youth unite
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
Australia’s second Catholic Youth Festival
held in Adelaide this month has been
hailed a “roaring success”.
The biennial festival gifted to Australia’s
Catholic youth by the Australian Catholic
Bishops Conference (ACBC) was held
at the Adelaide Convention Centre from
December 3 to 5.
“This has been an absolute roaring
success,” said ACBC Office for Youth
director Malcolm Hart at the festival’s final
“You have brought this place alive with the
spirit of Christ,” he told youth.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College
student Tiana Silvy opened the three-day
event at the Adelaide Convention Centre
with her recognition to country.
“I am thrilled you have come to listen
brothers and sisters,” the third-born
Kuarna and Naranga girl said to kick off
The festival was officially opened by South
Australian Governor Hieu Van Le AO, also
a parishioner of Norwood.
He told the 17 bishops, 3500 youth, 100
volunteers and almost 100 speakers and
presenters at the opening plenary that the
possibilities are endless for those who hold
their faith dear.
“To see so many young people
represented here as leaders of their
communities and their faith fill me with
such hope and optimism,” he said.
Adelaide Vicar-General Philip Marshall told
youth present: “You are the strength and
energy of the Church and God needs your
courage, your strong bodies and loving
hearts, your capacity for enthusiasm and
risk...your generous spirits and your joy
and your fun.”
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, who
came to the stage through deafening
applause from his own pilgrims, said God
has “something special in mind for every
person at this festival”. “I’m absolutely
sure of that,” he said.
Bishop Costelloe said the festival theme –
‘Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall
see God’, from the Beatitudes – was a way
for the Church to truly know whether it was
serving others or itself.
“Measuring yourself against the Beatitudes
is like looking at a mirror that never lies,”
he told youth. “So take the opportunity
that this youth festival offers us to gaze
into the mirror of the Beatitudes,” he said.
Photo: Ben Macmahon
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