Thursday 30 July 2009

Scene - the first day

Sunday 19th July, 10.30am, saw the opening Mass of the Congress celebrated by Bishop Julian. Families had been invited to take part in the Mass, after which a short Family Congress took place. About 60 Sydney families took part in the event.
We repaired to Philip Park, just outside the Cathedral, for a picnic lunch. You can see from the photos that the weather could not have been better. An hour later we split into three workshop groups: one for children, one for teenagers and one for parents. The latter two were held on the theme of the Family and Evangelisation. We were grateful to the members of the Community of St John for leading the teenagers. Meanwhile four agents of family life, including myself, led the parents workshop on the four tasks of the family which JPII presented in Familiaris Consortio.

Finally, Bishop Julian led us all back into the Cathedral where, at Our Lady's statue, we consecrated our families to her. By 3pm the families were beginning to make their way back

This was a tremendous event by which we enabled families to have some part in the Congress. I believe that families are at the forefront of the New Evangelisation, for not only are parents given the 'hands on' task of building the domestic church, but also they are at the interface with modern culture in which discernment and evangelisation are real tasks enlivened by grace. By embracing families at the start of the Congress we hoped to both honour and strengthen them in their mission.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Scene - a living witness.

The Scene Congress brought to life, for the Church in Sydney and especially its young people, the vision of what the New Evangelisation is - that we can't keep the Gospel to ourselves, we are called to evangelise. Yes, the old evangelisation continues to bear fruit for a small number, but modern man is so wounded by the culture which he is immersed in, that we need to seek new ways of reaching him with the Gospel.
I don't think that there was a single delegate of Scene who did not come away without being switched on to the reality of the New Evangelisation. And, unlike so many Catholic events - even WYD itself - which leave the participant enthused but sometimes somewhat unclear about the message, many Scene delegates commented about how focussed the Congress had been and how clearly they has imbibed its message - that we are called to seek new ways of evangelising, of bringing people to Christ the evangeliser.
In the next post I will speak about the daily themes of the Congress, and some of the speakers, but suffice it to say, that after the late morning Mass each day, delegates were sent out onto the city's streets with a luminous message - Christ's love saves.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Act 1, Scene 1

This photo shows Bishop Julian Porteous and his two English 'Canons'; yes, Fr Julian came out to participate in the Congress. Each morning session of the Scene Congress began with sung Morning Prayer in the Cathedral Choir, led by the seminarians of Sydney Archdiocese. It was perhaps a surprise that each day Bishop Julian was accompanied by two English priests.
It was Bishop Julian who had 'seen' the vision for the Congress and, courageoulsy decided to plan this event, bringing together agents of the New Evangelisation from across Sydney, Australia and from Europe and North America. Scene was Bishop Julian's Congress.
The Congress was modelled on the International Congresses of the NE which have been held in European cities: morning Congress sessions followed by evangelisation events in the city centre.
The Scene Congress sessions began with Morning Prayer, followed first by a testimony and then by a Catechesis given by a Bishop. The high point of the day was the celebration of Mass. Even before lunch street evangelisation was underway. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament continued throughout the afternoon. Workshops in the afternoon generated a lot of interest and three Pub Talk venues were held in the CBD each evening.
This was a superb Congress which attracted between 400 and 600 delegates to the Morning Sessions each day. Celebrated on the anniversary of World Youth Day it fanned into flames again the immense grace of that event and, by being smaller and, perhaps more focussed, enabled the delegates and many others to really receive either some of the content of the teachings, or to see the Church in a way that had not witnessed before. More to follow.

Monday 27 July 2009

One year on.

One year on and I returned to Sydney to participate in the Congress of the New Evangelisation. This extraordinary event, which took place last week in St Mary's Cathedral and around the CBD in Sydney, fanned into flame the immense grace of World Youth Day 08.

Apologies for the long absence - over five weeks, but back in the UK I only had intermittant access to the internet, and then, during the Congress itself the same was true. I am finally back at Campion College and can attend to this long-forgotten Blog.

A month in England afforded me a good rest and necessary time to spend with family and friends. The sun was warm over Yorkshire but I sensed again the human decline, a consequence of the ebb of Christianity in the nation.

The Sydney Congress of the New Evangelisation, 19th - 26th July, held on the anniversary of World Youth Day, exceeded all expectations. I was the deputy chairman of the planning team, and although we had envisaged much that would happen, the eight days of the Congress far surpassed our humble plans. I hope, over the next few days, to provide a glimpse of this grace-filled event in which a light has been lit at the heart of the Church in Sydney.