Australian Catholic Youth Festival Perth

By Christopher Gilroy

What is the Spirit Saying?

It was a real blessing to have spent a pilgrimage from Canberra to Perth for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival with an awesome group of young Catholics on fire for the faith! On Dec 7th Archbishop Christopher Prowse and his 12 pilgrims (I think we can call us his disciples?) from the Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese embarked on a spiritual journey to discover what the Holy Spirit is calling us to as a young Catholic Church here in Australia. As a group we wanted to take this question seriously, hence multiple gatherings in the lead up to pray and be formed and prepare ourselves to hear God’s whisper into our hearts. 

I personally experienced moments of deep joy as I witnessed God at work through his children. 

On day three of the festival I was able to take part in praying with a young girl from Melbourne who made her Confirmation! She had a profound experience of the love of God which helped her realise she truly belonged in the Catholic Church which Christ founded. This young girl chose Joan of Ark as her confirmation saint who I feel is a fitting and appropriate role model of fortitude that we need as a Church today. 

I was able to have conversations with fellow pilgrims as they shared their personal struggles, hopes, fears and joys. My heart was moved to hear of the discernment of a young teenage woman in our group who expressed her deep love for Jesus and desire and to enter the religious life. I too had opportunities to share the gift of my vocation as a young married man and allowed the Holy Spirit to use me to express the Father’s love and hopes for us to strive for good holy marriages. 

I attended a talk by Katie McGrady, a young married woman and mother of one from the States who spoke of the motherhood of Mary. I laughed, I learned and I cried (manly tears). Katie allowed us to experience and be part of her relationship with Mary, which in my own heart increased the closeness and devotion I already have to her Immaculate Heart. 

I was able to collect my thoughts on the pilgrimage walk on the final day, to pray the rosary and reflect on what the Holy Spirit was saying to me in my life and to our Church. I put aside my own personal thoughts and perceptions and honestly asked God what he was saying and I stopped and listened. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

I was one of the five young people chosen to share these thoughts at the final plenary before the concluding Mass in front of the 6000 young people in attendance. I am convicted in my heart that the Holy Spirit is asking us to enter into deep dialogue with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to truly listen to their pains, hopes, fears and joys. We must listen with the ear of Christ and not be absent from the presence of God when we listen, but rather be united to the will, truth and love of God. We need to lean back into God and realise we’re created in His image, and not create God in our own image. I shared with the youth of Australia on stage my intention to take these real experiences of the presence of God in my life home with me back to Canberra and invited them to do the same, before directing them towards my key message and that is that the Father is calling us to have a Marian faith. God desires for us to love our Blessed Mother, the mediatrix of all graces. He wants us to love her and have a relationship with her and allow her to teach us who her son really is. Mary knows Jesus intimately and fully and she knows she is created in the image and likeness of God.

Mary teach us to be humble, kind, compassionate, merciful and courageous like you.

Mary help of Christians; pray for us. 

Christopher Gilroy,

YMI Coordinator