Following in family footsteps to World Youth Day
By Mary Brazell
After hearing stories from family members about the excitement and joy of World Youth Day, 18-year-old Catholic Stacie Touche is set to follow in their footsteps.
Stacie will be one of 170 young people from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains travelling to World Youth Day, a week-long Catholic youth festival which celebrates the joy and vibrancy of the universal Church.
Currently studying contemporary music at college, first-time pilgrim Stacie explained that her older sister and four of her cousins have previously been to World Youth Day. “They all came back so different,” she said.
“Seeing how different my sister was when she came back – how she got more involved in Church and her faith – was something that I wanted to experience for myself.
“I was able to go to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in 2019 with my sister, and she told me that World Youth Day is similar to ACYF, but much bigger.
“My parents have been really supportive of me saying yes to World Youth Day.”
Parish ‘extremely supportive’ of pilgrims financially and spiritually
Stacie has been a parishioner at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta, her whole life. She has been an altar server in the parish for 9 years, is part of the parish’s music ministry and an active member of the CREDO youth group.
Alongside Stacie, the Cathedral parish is sending three other young parishioners to World Youth Day – including one small group leader.
The parish has been extremely supportive of the pilgrim’s journey towards World Youth Day, Stacie describes, having organised several fundraising opportunities including after-Mass BBQs, selling raffle tickets, and hosting a trivia night.
“Every time we have a fundraiser, we have a lot of parishioners asking, ‘are you one of the pilgrims going to World Youth Day?’
“Outside of the fundraisers, parishioners recognise me as being one of the pilgrims, and every time I talk with them, I continue to ask for their prayers,” she added.
Strengthening connection to Our Lady
Over the past few months, Stacie, along with her fellow travellers, has been attending formation sessions where they learn about the saints who will be accompanying the pilgrimage, getting glimpses of the towns they will be visiting and receiving tips and tricks on how to get the best experience.
She hopes that the pilgrimage will allow her to learn more about Mother Mary and her title as Our Lady of Lourdes.
“During the formation sessions, we learnt about Our Lady of Lourdes. I have always heard of the title, but I never really knew what had happened, especially the healing proportions of the water,” she said.
“I feel like I struggle with my devotions to Mary – I don’t prayer to her as much as I could or really at all.
“I hope this trip changes that and by reading my bible more and praying more consistently, I hope that my prayer life and love for Mary strengthens.”
Finding a new path
When asked what she is most looking forward to on the World Youth Day experience, Stacie mentioned the connections she will make with other young Catholics in the Diocese.
“Before I went to ACYF, I felt that I was going through a spiritual slump. ACYF was really great and allowed me to get out of that thought and let me think about my faith differently.
“The World Youth Day theme, ‘Mary arose and went with haste’ tells me not to hesitate and to follow the Lord.
“I hope that on World Youth Day, I learn to find a solid path on how to live out my faith better coming back.”
As the countdown begins towards departure, you can follow along our Diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day by signing up to our newsletter to receive the latest pilgrimage news at catholicoutlook.info/WYD23News or visit parrawyd.org.