A life-size image of St Marcellin Champagnat proved a major draw card for Marist fans who visited the Vocations and Youth Ministry stall at the recent Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Melbourne. Marist students, teachers and other pilgrims flocked to the stall to get a “selfie” with Marcellin who appeared alongside other notables such as Pope Francis and St Mary MacKillop.
Held at the Australian Catholic University Campus from December 5-7, the first national festival gathered 3,500 enthusiastic young people from across the country for a carnival-like atmosphere of prayer, celebration and Christian formation.
A key component of the festival was the expo-style presentation of Catholic organisations and youth ministry groups, including the Marists. A combined effort from the Vocations Team and Marist Youth Ministry saw the launch of a newly designed banner (Marists: Live, Connect, Grow, Serve) together with a new T-Shirt, “Keep Calm and Be Marist”.
Young Marists were out in full-force during the days of the festival promoting Marist life and spirituality. The MYM team presented a workshop on “Praying with Mary” while the Vocations Team provided their own presentation, “Keys to Discerning My Vocation” with 70 young adults in attendance.
Co-ordinating the stall, Br Rod Thomson explained the importance of the Marist presence at the festival: “This is the largest gathering of Catholic youth since WYD Sydney 2008. As a key provider of youth ministry and formation for young people in the Australian Church, Marists are here to share how we live out the Gospel in the way of Mary and Marcellin, through our everyday lives. Many young people are attending this national gathering for the first time so encountering religious brothers and young Marists provide them an opportunity to find out more about our Marist way of life and various programs they can participate in.”
Given the overwhelming positive response from young people, it is anticipated that a national Catholic youth festival will be held every three years to coincide with World Youth Day.