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Theme of mercy in the limelight at Catholic Youth Festival, Veritas 2016


Young people surround Archbishop Timothy Costelloe at the Veritas Youth Festival 2016. Archbishop Costelloe facilitated a discussion forum with more than 180 young people on some of the more relevant and pressing issues of our times. Photo: CYM

Given the overwhelming success of the Veritas Youth Festival in 2015, there were high hopes for another positive outcome for the festival this year. Unsurprisingly, Veritas 2016 did not disappoint and, given that it is only the second time it has ever been held, it looks like the event is here to stay.

Held over the weekend of 22-24 April 2016 at Santa Maria College in Attadale, the Veritas Youth Festival was an initiative of the Catholic Youth Network - a collection of youth agencies, communities and movements from across the Archdiocese.

The festival kicked off with a Friday night rally in which the theme of mercy was placed at the very centre of what would be a memorable weekend. One of the first speakers to highlight the importance of the theme was Perth Permanent Deacon Aaron Peters who offered an insightful presentation entitled Fishing for Mercy in which he explained how the power of God’s mercy can impact on whether we live our lives in a courageous, generous and true way.

The talk was followed by a drama play performed by the Youth Mission Team and a speech by a Mercy Care representative. MercyCare and Catholic Super were proud sponsors of the event.


The Ignite Youth Band delighted Veritas 2016 attendees with joy-filled music over the entire weekend. Photo: CYM

The second day of Veritas 2016 ensured participants would enter fully into the festival as the Ignite Youth music team put up a show that only a musically talented group such as theirs can offer.

The day was filled with a number of insightful and informative talks by individuals and groups. Some of the presentations featured were: Remaining Catholic at College/Uni by the Murdoch University Catholic Chaplaincy; Being a Catholic Man in a Secular World by the Knights of the Southern Cross WA; ORANS: Praise and Worship workshop by Singles for Christ Australia; Discerning my Vocation by Fr Joseph Johnson; and Jesus Youth and Leading a youth group to be nothing like school by Mario Borg.

Another great highlight of the day was the discussion forum which saw Archbishop Timothy Costelloe and more than 180 young people engage in some of the more relevant and pressing issues of our times.

Two of the questions posed by the Archbishop, which the participants then had time to discuss in groups and give an answer to, were “Why do many young people not go to Church”? and “How can the Church be merciful today?”

The discussions revolving around the first question focused on a lack of understanding by young people of the teachings of the Catholic Church about the Mass as well as what was described by 24/7 Youth Ministry member Paul Crossley, as a feeling of not being welcomed and heard by the community in general.

The second question urged people to speak about the intrinsic link between mercy and love in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

“Mercy intrinsically is bound to love,” Spearwood parishioner Syona Fernandez said. “We, as the Church, need to present the real truth while strongly holding on to the values and ideals of the Church,” she added.

In his response, Archbishop Costelloe addressed the feedback of those who spoke and encouraged the audience to think about new ways in which youth can be brought to the Church.

“The fundamental thing I heard is that many of us do not understand what the Mass is all about. Sometimes we think it’s about us, but it’s about God,” the Archbishop said.

On the topic of Mercy, the Archbishop encouraged the youth to accept responsibility and realise that change starts with their actions

“We need to ask ourselves, what can I do to begin a change? It’s all of us together who are responsible for the Church,” he said.

The final day of Veritas 2016 once again saw Ignite Youth delight the participants with fantastic music before Director of Catholic Youth Ministry in Perth, Anita Parker, presented a final group talk.

Focusing on the passage from Matthew’s Gospel, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”(Matt 5:7), Ms Parker carefully summarised the theme of the entire weekend. She also spoke on the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation before challenging those gathered to respond to Pope Francis’ call for youth to participate in one spiritual and one corporal work of mercy for the next seven months.

There could not have been a better conclusion to Veritas 2016 than with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Costelloe. In his homily, the Archbishop invited those present to reflect on whether Jesus Christ had knocked on the door of their hearts and encouraged them open the door to their hearts so as to allow Him into their lives.

He concluded by quoting St Pope John Paul II in his first homily as Pope:

“Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept His power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ, and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of humanity. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ. Do not be afraid. Christ knows what is within us. He alone knows it. Let Christ speak to you. He alone has the words of life.”


The novelty this year at Veritas was the Catholic Super Festrun on Saturday, 23 April, which saw the Archdiocese of Perth’s agencies and movements showcase their charisms by running a stall, offering information and engaging with anyone who wanted to know more. Photo: CYM

The novelty this year at Veritas was a the Catholic Super Fest run on Saturday, 23 April, which saw the Archdiocese of Perth’s agencies and movements showcase their charisms by running a stall, offering information and engaging with anyone who wanted to know more.

Religious orders, youth groups, charities, university campus ministries and other lay organisation all ran stalls in a show of dedication and commitment that highlighted the richness and vibrancy of an Archdiocese that is alive and kicking.

For more information about Veritas, visit

With the kind assistance of Sarah Hicks, official journalist for Veritas Youth Festival.