Celebrating World Youth Day 2019: Testimonials

world youth day

Want to hear from the youth that participated in World Youth Day@Home during its first year as part of the Summer School of Evangalisation?

Andrew takes us through highlights of his experience, his expectations of the event, and its impact on his faith.

Was this your first Melbourne Summer School of Evangelisation event? What attracted you?

This year was my first Summer School and will definitely not be my last. I went without knowing what to expect and ended up having a really pivotal experience that has made a big impact on my faith journey. I really can't recommend it enough. I am 22 and was surprised to find lots of people my age, pleasantly, and in some cases they were slightly older. What attracted me to attend was a deep desire for connecting with community, to grow closer to God, to become equipped with practical skills and knowledge in order to be able to go out and evangelise, and to serve!

The School involves lectures and plenary sessions in the mornings, and workshops in the afternoons. What did you take home?

The lecture series I went to was called ‘Re-build My Church’ and led by Sr. Berna. The most important points I took away were: 

Work on your faith testimony! If you are prepared, you can share it with more people than you think

Evangelisation starts with Witness and Proclamation. Don't skip to telling people how they should live their lives without first Witnessing and Proclaiming the faith yourself, and then offer an Invitation that may lead to Conversion, followed by fostering Community and Formation.

Know who you are speaking to and tailor what you say to them. This does not mean changing your point of view, but rather expressing it in a way that will not turn people away but draw them closer and make them want to learn more. 

I also attended Fr. Robin's sessions on Ignatian Spirituality. Some key points were:

Times of spiritual consolation and desolation are common actually, and just about everyone experiences them

Practical tips on what to do when you find yourself in a period of spiritual desolation:

           1) be aware of how your spirit may be moving (recognise spiritual desolation). Reject what you know to be bad and receive what you know to be good.

           2) stand firm in good decisions made in times of consolation. Don't make decisions in times of desolation

           3) Agere contra: act against behaviour that is not life-giving and that holds us back from freedom

           4) have confidence in God's grace and practice patience

How did the School help you enter your Catholic faith more fully?

It really fostered a sense of community, something that can be hard to find. Daily sacraments and prayer helped me spend meaningful time with Jesus. The lectures and seminars gave me a deeper understanding of my faith and how I can share it with others. 

How did the journey with other young Catholics enrich your experience?

This was a really great part of Summer School! It led to some good discussions and challenged me to think about things. It got me out of my comfort zone, and kept me engaged throughout the week.

What were some of your personal highlights from the week?

I had an incredible and personal encounter with God's love and the power of the Holy Spirit one Thursday night of that week. I gave God a spec of faith, and He not only answered my prayers in the way that I exactly needed him to, but I received so much more than I ever could could have hoped for. God is good!

What would you want to say to anyone considering attending the event next year?

I put the Summer School experience up there with the best of what every young Catholic needs to have at some point. If you have the opportunity to go, take it up! You will not regret it!


“On the first day, the speaker said that every person in God's eyes is very good. God would call me "his delight," referring to scripture. For me, it was a struggle to accept. In my head, I could not fathom that God can look at me, or anyone like that.... But as the days went by and we were immersed in prayer, worship, talks and fellowship, I found that it is indeed true. I realised areas in my life where there is tension and breakdown... The whole Summer School was an opportunity for me to let the Spirit address those areas and heal them.”

-Jaz, 22

“There are so many things I appreciate about the Summer School of Evangelisation, and beginning the year through a week of prayer, community, and learning about our faith more deeply. I loved being able to serve during the week. It’s such a privilege and joy to walk with young people as they discover God’s love in a more personal way and witness them as they let him into their hearts. I’ve found that to be encouraging in deepening my own faith. I was blown away the awareness that God loves us so much so as to draw us into his work. We get to see his goodness up close and in other people. Our God is so good. I was reminded that by using the gifts he has given us we are reminded of  who we are, become more of ourselves, and discover more deeply who he is.”

-Ellen, 25

“The Summer School of Evangelization 2019 / World Youth Day @ Home, was a truly sacred event. Coinciding with the World Youth Day in Panama in late  January, the Holy Spirit swept powerfully across all of the workshops, sacraments, music, dramas and speakers at the Summer School, bringing about many conversions and healing.  We also had highest number of attendees at the Melbourne school, with 150 participants from all over Australia! We are deeply grateful to CCI Insurance for continuing to make events like the Summer School possible, by being our major sponsor. We definitely hope to continue this relationship inthe future!”

-Lawrence, 31