Year 6 students from 58 primary schools across the Diocese of Parramatta


In mid-March, Year 6 students from 58 primary schools across the Diocese of Parramatta gathered in Penrith to participate in a new formation experience developed by the Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Mission Team called Encounter.

Over four days, more than 3,000 students experienced a reflection day which featured Melbourne-based Catholic singer-songwriter Gen Bryant and her band, supported by musicians from the Diocese’s Mission Enhancement Team and Catholic Youth Parramatta as well as World Youth Day student pilgrims.

Year 6 students from 58 primary schools across the Diocese of Parramatta


Alongside her inspiring and joy-filled music, Gen emphasised that although the students wear different uniforms and go to different schools, things like faith and our love for Jesus connect us all together.

“When I was your age, I was really curious. I started to ask a lot of questions. I wanted to figure out what it was that I believed and what all of this stuff about church that I was learning at school and about God and Jesus,” Gen explained.

“I wanted to share my gifts with others because I started to realise that music has this powerful thing where it can bring people joy and it is a really beautiful thing that I can share with others.

“I’m grateful for these gifts and I've realised that they just haven’t come from nowhere. I've realised that those gifts have been given to me by God on this journey of faith.”

Joshua from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary Seven Hills, appreciated Gen’s honesty throughout the day. “She’s a perfect example of how such humble beginnings can end up very successful and very close to God.”

"When Gen sang her song Raise it Up, I felt that she said to never give up and keep going, even when you fall down,” fellow Our Lady of Lourdes student Jiya added.

Year 6 students from 58 primary schools across the Diocese of Parramatta


Students explored the Scripture of Mark 8:27, where Jesus challenges his disciples to say, “Who do you say I am?”, as well as considering how through Genesis 1:27 they are called through creation, made in God’s image.

Mission Partner Virginia Fortunat said, “Encounter was an invitation to our senior primary students, not just to know about God, but to begin an intimate and personal relationship with God.”

“Encounter took students from a great and energetic Praise and Worship session to the sacred silence of Eucharistic Adoration where they were invited by Fr Chris del Rosario [Administrator at St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood] to have their own conversation with God, and listen deeply to what God is saying to them.”

Year 6 students from 58 primary schools across the Diocese of Parramatta


Along the way, students heard from World Youth Day pilgrims about the transformative experience of their own encounters before, during and after WYD.

The Year 6 students learned about Blessed Carlo Acutis, an inspiration to 21st Century young people in his devotion to the Eucharist and his willingness to share his love through technology. Students were also encouraged to meet other students from other schools during a lunchtime card swap, where they shared the gifts God gave them and what makes them truly unique.

“In the journal exercise, I wrote that I think God’s proud of me,” Evie from Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary Greystanes said. “I think he’s able to recognise that and that I try my hardest to be the best version of me and He’s there to support me for my future.”

Year 6 students from 58 primary schools across the Diocese of Parramatta


Erin Wynne, Acting Religious Education Coordinator at Christ the King Primary North Rocks said “Our students had the privilege of immersing themselves in live praise and worship music led by the talented Gen Bryant. The atmosphere was electric as they sang along and let the music uplift their spirits.

“They had the chance to connect with peers from nearby schools, fostering new friendships and strengthening their sense of community within the Diocese.

“A highlight of the day was undoubtedly the profound experience of encountering Jesus through adoration. In moments of quiet reflection, our students were able to deepen their faith and feel the presence of Jesus in their hearts.”

 

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Written By

Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese

Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
www.parra.catholic.edu.au

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