Light to the Nations shines brightly

Photo by Kate Ng.

Each year, young people from all around Australia, joined by people from throughout the Pacific, come to the Southern Highlands of NSW on a pilgrimage.

They camping under the open skies and join in a unique celebration of the Easter liturgies.

Light to the Nations offers a truly powerful renewal experience, held in the beautiful bushland setting of Chevalier College, Bowral.

There, pilgrims find Jesus in a new way, through prayer, worship, drama, music, and personal sharing.

Since 1987 the Light to the Nations Easter Youth Pilgrimage has been hosted by the Disciples of Jesus Community.

Here are some testimonies from this year’s Light to the Nations.

Gabrielle Dahdah from Pymble, NSW

Every second year, for longer than I care to remember, my husband and I have packed up our growing family and taken them all to an extraordinary Easter youth pilgrimage – Light to the Nations.

This phenomenal event is really a charismatic celebration of the Easter Triduum, Disciples of Jesus – style, in a circus tent, while camping out with hundreds of people for the long weekend. 

We have eight children, two of which are adults and help with different aspects of this mountaintop faith experience of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The liturgies are led by our very own home-grown Missionaries of God’s Love priests, brothers and sisters.

The major highlights include Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper, dramatization of Good Friday Stations of the cross (with world class acting), Veneration of the Cross and the opportunity for Sacramental Reconciliation. Saturday morning is centred around Mary’s personal journey of grieving for her Son, while maintaining hope in His promise of resurrection leads the people deep into the experience of the disciples.

The high point peaks in the glorious Vigil Mass that night, my all-time favourite faith moment – imagine lifting the roof of a big-top, singing alleluia with all your heart, waving your lighted taper with over 1000 other people full of the joy of the resurrection!

All this is shot through with phenomenal praise & worship, led by truly gifted leaders, testimonies, incredible preachings from Catholics (both consecrated and lay), exposure to exciting current outreaches in the Church today, and fresh, moving ways of experiencing our rich Catholic faith.

The powerful renewal of faith & hope that flows out of this biannual fixture of our family life is the reason we keep coming back.

Photo by Jazz Chalouhi

Nathan Mullins, Canberra ACT

I have been coming to Light to the Nations since I was a child and it has consistently been a real highlight of my year. The liturgies are extraordinary experiences with great music and quality preachings.

Journeying through Christ’s passion, death and resurrection with a thousand other people is both so inspirational for my personal faith and gives me hope for the future of the Church.

This year I was in the choir for the first time and it was fascinating to experience the Triduum from a different perspective, having a personal encounter with Jesus while looking over so many people from the choir stand experiencing the same thing.

I could see so many faces of people my own age filled with joy and hope as their candles lit up the darkened room singing Alleluia after Alleluia during the Exultet. I couldn’t help but think that it was a glimpse of heaven, with the masses worshipping the Lord.

A personal highlight was during the Easter Vigil, when Fr Ken invited up all those who had never publicly given their life to Christ. Seeing so many young people and even children stand in front of the congregation and give their life to Jesus is a genuinely tear-jerking moment.

I am constantly reminded of the importance of community and that I am not alone in my faith, and I already cannot wait for the next Lights in 2021.”

Photo be Elizabeth Mullins

Natalie Lim – Darwin, Northern Territory

When I decided to attend Light to the Nations this year, I wasn’t too sure what to expect and what I was going to gain from the experience. I even wondered whether I was going to feel anything life changing or overwhelming. But that all changed the very first day I arrived in Chevalier College, Burradoo. The trees, the birds, the sounds, everything about the venue was absolutely mesmerising. I truly felt God’s presence there.

I am super blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to go to Lights this year. There are so many experiences that I can’t even put to words because they have just left me absolutely speechless.

I always felt my relationship with God was in a good place, that it was good as it was. But in 4 days, my relationship with God has changed for the better, it has deepened and it has revealed a lot to me. In 4 days, I have cried tons, laughed tons, been in absolute awe of Him. He showed me that there is more to receive than I could ever imagine.

God always knew me from the inside out. Through the Easter Liturgy, He used the exceptional music at Lights to cut through my tough heart to let Him into my life in a deeper way.

Through the lyrics of “Here Again” by Elevation Worship, He revealed to me a glimpse of the joy and happiness that He had in store for me. From the lyrics of “Love Came Down” by Brian Johnson, He showed me how much He really did love me and how He wasn’t  scared of the ugly and dirty parts of my heart. He brought all of that out of me in 4 days.

I’m so overwhelmed with God’s love for me and I have definitely come back to Darwin as a changed person, as a better person, as God’s instrument of love. I would definitely go to Lights again….and again and again!!!

At Lights, The Eternal Light, Jesus Christ, has CHANGED my LIFE!!!! He did that when I finally had the courage to listen and open up my heart to Him.

God bless!! And see you there in 2021!!

Story contributed by DOJ

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