With over 650 attendees, the Aotearoa Catholic Youth Festival weekend of worship, discussion and performance got off to a hot start, under a beautiful blue Auckland sky.
Some of the day’s highlights included workshops on the work of the Catholic faith community, the state of our earth, relationships, and Q&A with a bishop! The opening saw a harmony of voices, a haka and a beautiful Karakia, with singer and songwriter, Matt Maher taking part in the worship and a blessing of the diocesan and festival candles by President of the New Zealand Bishops Conference, Bishop Patrick Dunn.
The workshops and keynotes were filled to capacity and explored a hugely diverse range of topics. Among these, Auckland writer and youth leader, Sam Brebner led a session on our calling in the Church, while youth ministry leaders Annie Benefield and Chris Duthie-Jung came together to discuss the big questions around ‘Why I’m Catholic’.
Bishop Steve set an informal and welcoming tone with the bishops’ Q&A early afternoon and the challenge of digital interface in our lives up for discussion in another session. Other speakers included Isabella McCafferty and Father Alistair Castillo who pondered on the question ‘does God really have a plan for my life?’. ‘Our common home’ was the focus of discussion in the Project Earth workshop, together with a number of other workshops led by leaders and youth workers of the Church.
Participants were encouraged to take part in workshops, browse the many stalls, experience a number of performances and just enjoy the warmth and atmosphere of the festival. The day’s events culminated with a prayer vigil led by Matt Maher and a festival Mass.
So, what’s on the cards for Sunday? There’ll be a chance for participants to catch workshops they may have missed on Saturday or to attend keynote talks. These will be on such things as life, mission and the work of the Catholic faith community, striving to grow spiritually and personally and empowering young people to live as disciples. The bishops will continue their involvement in the gathering tomorrow, which includes more workshops, an expo lunch and plenary session ‘Face to face with the Francis factor’. The weekend will come to a grand conclusion with Matt Maher’s performance at the Victory Centre, supported by New Zealand acts, Monique Holden and Grace Worship.
Aotearoa Catholic Youth Festival supporters include Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Catholic Enquiry Centre, The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand, the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, the Catholic Foundations of the Diocese of Palmerston North and Archdiocese of Wellington, Pandoro, and Pleroma Christian Supplies. Radio Rhema and Life FM are the official sponsors of the Matt Maher concert.