Students from nine Sydney Catholic schools have gathered at Holy Spirit Catholic College Lakemba to remember World Youth Day 2008 (WYD08) and look forward to the remaining six months of the Year of Youth.
‘Commemorate 08’ marked a decade since Sydney hosted WYD08, but videos, interviews with attendees and music by the Come Alive Worship Band helped bring it to life for students.
Three speakers addressed the crowd: Madeleine Carrington, who told youth that they too could be saints, Deacon Harold, who discussed the pursuit of joy in Catholic life, and Bishop Tony Randazzo, who spoke to students about the power of the Holy Spirit and took questions from the floor.
The Bishop used the example of St Peter’s speech to Jewish leaders as described in the Book of Acts to demonstrate to his young listeners that anything is possible. He said they could follow in the footsteps of St Peter, a boy from a part of the world not unlike Lakemba, and do great things with their lives.
“When we receive the Holy Spirit,” he said, “life is anything but boring, or dull, mediocre or routine.”
St Mary’s Cathedral College Sydney Year 11 student Michael Nguyen, who questioned the Bishop on vocational discernment, said Fr Randazzo’s willingness to share his own experiences made for a very relatable session.
“You’re more inclined to listen because it’s personal,” he said. “I really liked it when he spoke about how everyone has the same vocation, to be a good Christian, but that we’re all presented with different opportunities.”
When we receive the Holy Spirit, life is anything but boring
The event was especially significant for Michael and a number of the other Years 9-11 students in attendance as they are currently preparing to make their own pilgrimages to World Youth Day 2019.
Year 11 Holy Spirit student Christian Nakhle, who was helping teachers run the day, said hearing others share their memories from the 2008 event over the years was one reason she’d signed up to make the trip to Panama.
“Just watching the videos back from that day and seeing the photos, it looked really exciting,” she said. “All the teachers who went told us how great an experience it was, and that kind of pushed us to want to go.”