Minister's moment of grace at WYD

Kristina Keneally and FamilyNSW Government World Youth Day spokesperson Kristina Keneally MP has described World Youth Day as a 'happy event', which the people of Sydney can 'choose to share in and enjoy — if they want to'.

Some people will not want to share the joy because of the way the Government's so-called anti-annoyance laws were enacted. They have a point. Others will regard the laws as merely a stumbling block on the way to embracing the event.

Keneally would argue that the intention of the laws was to create the conditions necessary for Sydneysiders and visitors to share in the joy of the event. Intimidating and distasteful actions by individuals hostile to the event would take away this freedom.

What is the particular joy that comes to Sydney with World Youth Day? It's something that cannot be quantified, but has to be experienced. Keneally reflected in Compass Theology Review on how it hit her at World Youth Day 1991 in Czestochowa, Poland, where she met her husband Ben.
My job was to read the English version of the second reading in the vigil service. Speaking to one of the Australian delegates, Ben Keneally, before the liturgy, I remarked on how unsettling it was to see the euphoria and the near hero worship of the Pope that was displayed by many of the young people.
For goodness sake, I told Ben, this was just a man. All the crying, the emotion and the adulation seemed a bit unwarranted. Ben agreed.
I did the second reading and at the last minute, thinking I was quite clever, I made unapproved changes to the text to render it gender inclusive. Then, as I had been instructed to do, I turned to the Pope and bowed. At that point he looked directly at me, smiled and nodded.

She went on to describe the experience as a 'moment of grace', adding that she 'felt holiness'.

In the many years since that event, she has held on to both her Catholic faith and her feminist convictions. World Youth Day was indeed a life-changing event for Kristina Keneally.

The Hon. Kristina Kerscher Keneally, MP (NSW Parliament website)
World Youth Day

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.



Topic tags: michael mullins, World Youth Day spokesperson, Kristina Keneally MP, anti-annoyance laws



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Existing comments

It is important to seize on life-changing moments of grace. There is a palpable sense of providential intervention in such moments as the Lithuanian cardinal's sermon at Sunday Mass on 13th July in St. Mary's Melbourne when he said there was no excuse to look glum over setbacks and mishaps given our closeness to Christ as we approached WYD. The fact that he is charismatic is not the issue, but a reasoned approach to the joy of our union in Christ provides leadership at a time when some bishops return to a sermon first thought of 30 years before in vastly different circumstances and with a very different audience. The response of young people to what is tailored to their needs is invigorating and blessed by God. It is crowned with an overwhelming sense of "eureka".
ray lamerand | 15 July 2008

You say the anti-annoyance laws are for many Catholics problematic, but I would think they came at a good time. I notice that as of yet your journal has not made any mention of the ugly elephant in the room, the treatment of a certain erstwhile Catholic teacher by both a priest in the church and later by Cardinal Pell. The laws are a God send; they can protect us from the uncomfortable events making news of late, so we can 'share the joy of the event' and not get caught up in 'intimidating and distasteful action' of those wanting to air their claims for recognition and justice! What joy some of us can feel right now!
david akenson | 15 July 2008


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