Close to 500 students sang, danced and prayed at a Fr Rob Galea concert to mark six months until the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.
Held at Patrician Brothers College Fairfield on June 16, the event drew a crowd from 11 other Sydney Catholic schools including nearby Mary Mackillop Catholic College Wakeley and inner-west schools Domremy College Five Dock and De La Salle College Ashfield.
Fr Galea performed a mix of pop songs and original Christian music before speaking to students about going from under-aged nightclubbing in Malta to finding his vocation through God, in line with the event theme ‘From the Ashes: Spark the Fire Within’.
The Victorian priest and former X Factor contestant, who is collaborating with artists from around the world on new material, said he never got tired of playing to a youth audience.
Music is the language of the heart, it transcends the mind.
“I suppose it comes from my passion from seeing young people encounter God,” he said. “Very often it’s for the first time that is in a fun atmosphere and outside of the academic side of things.
“My vocation is talking to kids, preaching the gospel, and I use music to speak to the hearts of young people. Music is the language of the heart, it transcends the mind.”
Fr Galea and his band will also perform at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, which will be held from December 7 to 9 at Sydney Olympic Park. The event is an official beginning to the Year of Youth, which celebrates 10 years since Sydney hosted World Youth Day in 2008.
“I am very much excited though for me every year is the year of youth,’ Fr Galea said. “It’s so nice to have the Church give its time, energy and resources to particularly focus on the hearts of young people.”
Patrician Brothers’ College Year 11 student Jason Truong shared MC duties with Mary Mackillop Wakeley student Casey Martin.
He is also a member of the Youth For Christ group and said the program, like the concert, was about connecting young people more to their faith.
“It’s a fun program, and cooperative. We see each other as more like a family than a community – it’s about fun, faith and food,” he said.
“I’m pumped, seeing how many people came together for the concert. We’ve done a lot of promotion for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. Recently I’ve gone to a lot of schools to talk about festival program.”
The College’s religious Education Coordinator, Bruce Carr, said it was important to not doubt the influence and enthusiasm of young people.
“The 500 here will tell at least three friends each who will then come to the festival,” he said. “That’s power.”
De La Salle Catholic College Ashfield Year 12 student Rafael Candelario said events like the concert and ACYF provided a sense of faith and belonging.
“I always feel excited when I go to these events and see the massive group of other students around my age who also have a passion for religion,” he said. “It will be one of those things I will miss after I finish high school.”
Though he has seen Fr Rob perform on a few occasions he said he was looking forward to the festival, which he will attend as a Year 12 graduate.
“He’s a very talented priest and someone who has a passion for music but also faith,” Rafael said. “I can’t wait for the festival.”
I’m pumped seeing how many people came together for the concert.
Mount St Joseph Milperra Year 10 student Lara Cabrelle was among 18 students from her school who attended the concert.
“The concert was great, I loved it,” she said. “I saw the promos on Facebook for the event and said straight away that I was going.
“I’m also an ambassador for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, so that’s fun. I’ve grown with God since 2012, when I was in the junior evangelization program at my primary school. I do a lot of social justice work with our school to help create a better world. I think people can expect a lot from the festival. Because it is held in Sydney, all Sydney Catholic schools will be involved and invited for those days.”
Year 11 student Angelina Santaguida was among 20 students from Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook who attended the event.
“It was a really great night,” she said. “It was very empowering and fulfilling for the soul. I’d love to experience it again.”
Students from the following schools attended the event:
- Patrican Brothers’ College Fairfield
- Mary Mackillop Catholic College Wakeley
- Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg Heights
- All Saints Catholic College Liverpool
- All Saints Catholic Senior College Casula
- Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook
- Mount St Joseph Milperra
- Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood
- De La Salle Catholic College Ashfield
- De La Salle Catholic College Revesby Heights
- Domremy College Five Dock
- Holy Cross College Ryde