‘Christ is Alive’ at the youth festival of ‘Truth’
This year’s Veritas festival saw a record number of attendees, with close to 1000 people from across Perth coming together for evening. Photo: F.I.O Photography.
By Josh Low
Christ being alive in and working through us was the focus of the recent Veritas Youth Festival on 9 August.
Held at John XXIII College in Mt Claremont, this year’s festival was a one-night only event serving as a build up to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in December this year.
Themed “Christ is Alive”, the event saw close to 1000 in attendance, with young people coming from all across the Archdiocese for a night of formation and prayer.
Both Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton were present for the occasion, joined by various members of clergy.
Keynote speaker Syona Fernandez, who focussed on Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Christus Vivit”. Photo: Josh Low.
Archbishop Costelloe delivered the opening address to those present, with keynote speaker for the night, Syona Fernandez, delving into Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, before a testimony by Samuel Borg from 24:7 Youth Ministry, and Eucharistic Adoration led by Bishop Sproxton.
In his address, Archbishop Costelloe referenced two famous phrases of Australia’s first and so far only canonised Saint, Mary MacKillop: “never see a need without doing something about it” and “never forget who it is that you’re following”.
Samuel Borg shared his testimony of faith, which centred on how God can transform our weaknesses and shame if we let His light shine in our hearts. Photo: F.I.O Photography.
“I mention her for two reasons, she was born in and grew up in Australia, and Australia is a place where you can be absolutely one of the heroes of the Christian faith that stretches back 2000 years. Being a faithful Christian is as Australian as you can possibly be.
“You can’t possibly call yourself a Christian if you’re not at least trying to live that way. We’re not always going to succeed but if that’s our goal, then we’re well on the way to being Christians.
“But you know, that’s not enough to be Christian,” he added.
“I’m sure you know as I do, heaps of people who live exactly like that. They’re generous, warm-hearted, they reach out to people and always think of others instead of themselves, but may not go to Church or even believe in God.
“They’re good people and we’re lucky to have them in our world, but they’re not Christians. To be a Christian, you need something more.
“It’s when we put [St Mary MacKillop’s] two pieces of advice together, that you have a Christian,” he said.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said lots of people claim to know the way to live life to the full but told those present that if they want their lives to be all it could possibly be, to follow the way of Christ. Photo: Josh Low
The Perth Archbishop explained that Christian disciples are people who look beyond themselves and to Jesus Christ.
“We’re here for the Veritas festival, and we could call this the ‘Truth’ festival, since Veritas is Latin for truth. Jesus once said to His disciples, as He says to us tonight: ‘I am the Truth, I am the Veritas’.
“That was one of the things Mary MacKillop understood. You’re following the one who described Himself as the Truth.
“The challenge for us is whether or not we’ve got the courage and we’re prepared to take the risk of taking Jesus at his word and saying if you’re telling me the truth then you’re the one I’m going to entrust myself to.
“We hear a lot these days about fake news, there are also lots of fake truths around. Lots of people claim to have the truth and all the answers, but Jesus is the one we believe who actually does have all the answers.”
The ETG Band led the young people with the music for praise and worship throughout the evening. Photo: Josh Low.
He added that Jesus did not only describe Himself as the Truth, but also the Way and the Life.
“If you want your life to be all it could possibly be, choose to follow the way of Christ,” he said.
“Lots of people claim to know the way to live life to the full. But as disciples, we believe that Jesus is the way to do it.
“So if we make room for Him in our lives each day as Mary MacKillop did; if we unite ourselves to Him, then we’ll be living our life as fully and as richly and with as much enthusiasm and excitement as we possibly can.
“Always remember, we know which way to go, who to believe, and what kind of life to live. It’s all in Jesus, and Jesus is truly alive,” he concluded.
Vincent Haber, Acting Director of Catholic Youth Ministry, said it was “incredible” to see so many young people gathered to celebrate their faith.
“What an amazing space to be in tonight; to celebrate being young and to celebrate the Catholic faith.
“It was inspiring to witness almost 1000 young people come together in silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration, as Bishop Don led us into prayer,” he said.
Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton led Eucharistic Adoration on the night. Photo: F.I.O Photography.
Mr Haber added that he was particularly impressed with Syona’s talk on Christus Vivit and Sam’s testimony of faith.
“Syona really focused in on the importance of holiness – that as young people we can be holy; that we need to aim for holiness in our everyday lives, and to be proud of our faith and to live a life that is pleasing to God.
“And Sam spoke with all his heart about being broken but God still being able to work in and through us, despite our brokenness. That even through our humanness and our failings, God still loves us and has a plan for us, if we only be open to doing His will.
“Tonight has been an incredible evening of formation and prayer, leading up to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, and we are so excited to have the young people of Perth joined by youth from across Australia later this year,” Mr Haber said.
“But the message was clear tonight and there were three things to take away: that God loves us, that He is our Saviour, and that He is truly alive … alive in all of us.”