I’m at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival for the next several days. The ACYF lends itself to comparison with World Youth Day, albeit without the pope.

The pope’s absence, though, may also be its hidden strength. Since His Holiness is not there to act as a drawcard, and to sustain enthusiasm and excitement, the programme of events has to bear a heavier load. And the organisers have facilitated an exceptionally strong programme of events.

The array of workshops and activities is mind-boggling, and beautifully reflects the “here-comes-everybody” catholicity of Catholicism. To illustrate, here are a few of the events the Hamilton Catholic youth group will attend:

  • The Catholic Thing, with Fr Chris Ryan MGL. Come on a magical mystery tour of the weird and wonderful world of Catholicism: a world which loves beauty, honours intelligence, and calls you to greatness.
  • Mary MacKillop Pilgrimage WalkSt Mary of the Cross is a child of Melbourne. Take a walk down Mary’s streets and let her story become a part of your own.
  • Life, love, light. What makes a saint? We are called to sanctify. Get to know more about the inspiring life of Bl Chiara Luce Badano.
  • Christian Meditation. Do you want to taste and see the goodness of the Lord? Join the Sisters of Nazareth as they share this powerful form of prayer.
  • Hidden Treasure. Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, tells us that the gift of people with intellectual disability is a hidden treasure. Come and listen to their stories.
  • Using Scripture to encounter Jesus, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

In addition to such activities, there are constant opportunities for Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and sacramental confession. Included in the mix is the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which will be offered on the Feast of St Nicholas:


The grave-yard shift is a shame — I doubt my group will want to get up at 6am to get there just in time, and I don’t blame them — but it’s nonetheless heartening to see the EF included. Not so long ago, our liturgical patrimony was simply one more political potato too hot to touch. I’d like to think this is a sign of progress, indicative of more magnanimity and less ideology.