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Cross carries stories of First Australians to Vatican forum


Sharing the reality of young First Australians with other delegates from around the world was the “favourite memory” of Adelaide’s Holly Roberts, who attended the International Youth Forum in Rome in June.

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“Before I left for Rome I formed a relationship with NATSICC youth councillor Sabrina Stevens so that there could be a First Australian voice as part of our Oceania considerations,” Holly told The Southern Cross on her return to Adelaide.

NATSICC presented Holly (pictured) with a painted cross which she took with her to Rome.

On the second day of the forum, she was given a chance to speak and share briefly about the reality of young First Australians, with the information she had gained from her conversations with Sabrina.

“I then held up the cross and asked the young people in the room to say a blessing for the cross in their own language,” she said.

“This act of solidarity between young people from across the world is certainly my favourite memory of my time in Rome.”

Holly, who works in the Archdiocese’s Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults, was one of two young Australians selected to participate in the forum. She joined 250 young people from 120 different countries on a mission to identify ways to implement Pope Francis’ most recent apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive).

The post-synodal exhortation was written to young people and the entire world after the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, held in October last year.

The diocesan youth ministry support officer said discussing the exhortation with young Catholics from around the world was “inspiring”.

“Here we were, in Rome, talking about the realities of each of our lives – what it was like to be young in the Church, if we felt listened to, what we wanted the Church to be – you name it, and it was probably mentioned by one of the delegates!

“For three days we spent time listening to Christus Vivit being unpacked and were given opportunities to respond to the document.

“We spoke about inclusivity, accompaniment, discipleship and faith amongst the realities of Church in our homelands.”

The forum concluded with delegates having an audience with Pope Francis.

“We were excited to hear his words of encouragement,” Holly said.

“About 10 minutes before he entered the room we were surprised to find out that we would be able to meet him personally and were given a quick rundown of the etiquette of meeting a pope.

“I was able to shake his hand, let him know that I was from Australia, and then he also blessed the NATSICC cross, which was just the cherry on top.”


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