AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC YOUTH FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE

1 January 2014

 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me' (Luke 4:18)

 

Youth festival Mel 2013

This is the theme of the inaugural Australian Catholic Youth Festival which was brought to life as more than 3000 young people from around Australia gathered in Melbourne. The event kicked off the three day celebration from 5th to 7th December 2013 of what it means to be young and Catholic. It is the largest national gathering of Catholic young people since Sydney's World Youth Day in 2008. Joining as volunteers of this special occasion, Teresa Trieu and I, Maria Goretti were greatly impressed by its well-organized structure and deeply touched by the joyful and lively presence of all the participants and organizers.

Arrived Melbourne on 1st December which was also the first Sunday of Advent, we had more time to settle and prepare for the Festival. On the next day, 2nd December, we had our first gathering with the volunteer group to hear more details about the event and about the workforce policy. The following day we were free to have a walk along the beach near our convent in Mentone and enjoyed the fresh and gentle breeze of a tranquil evening.

Youth festival Mel 2013

 
 

On the 4th day, decked out in green T-shirt and hat, we took our first volunteering shift which is arranging and putting up posters around. It’s a great chance to make friends with other volunteers and learn all the different venues and directions leading to the conference centres. For other days, we had 2 shifts for each day, 1 in the morning and another in the afternoon, and the rest of the time we went back to our stall in the exhibition area.

There were 3 roles in my roster: at the registration and information desk, to be a way - finder and an usher. With more than 3000 participants and guests, the registration and information areas were almost packed for the first two days. People came as groups or individuals to take their passes and provided elements as their registers online. There were certainly some problems with such a number like this. Hence we learned how to tactfully deal with people of different ages.
Way - finder was the most needed job, yet for the first two days, though there were maps and floor plans of all the buildings inside the booklet, most of the participants and guests always looked for the green T-shirt people to help them find the place. That was really a good and interesting chance to meet all the people and come into contact with some special guests like Bishops of different States.
Then, usher seems to be a most stable job. Yet all the activity rooms were virtually packed very early, even half an hour before time. Thus, ushers should be alert and quickly respond to the situation and help to direct “the coming traffics” to other places.
There was always warm and friendly consideration among the volunteers. Therefore, we not only learned how to cooperate with but also take care of each other. And we eventually became friends just within three days of the festival.
We are very grateful for this precious opportunity. Three days of the festival were three days of feasting for us. We are feasted on our personal encounter with Christ through the friendly, enthusiastic and energetic participants, through varied meaningful talks, through silent time for personal prayers, through sharing, and through the Holy Eucharist. We also discovered that people of all ages feel the need and thirst for God. Being nourished by this wonderful experience, especially as volunteers, we are rekindled with ardent zeal for service of others as our motto “All to all” impels us to. We are looking forward to the coming events so as to contribute more to the good of the Church and others.

Sr. Maria Goretti

 


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