Well, we are gearing up for our Confirmation retreat this weekend. It is a busy time of year to organise a weekend retreat, but I think it works. It is part of the initial period of evangelisation at the start of our programme. We only have twenty 13-year-olds so it is possible to do this. We’re going to a youth retreat centre just outside London. The whole weekend is about EVANGELISATION!!The basic Gospel message. The reason we are taking them away for the weekend is to give them the space to hear it (between the homework slots 😉 ) We have planned everything as best we can to lead these young people to an encounter with Christ. This is what the whole weekend is about. My forte is sadly not youth evangelisation, and we no longer have a youth coordinator, so it has somewhat fallen in my lap. (A catechetical coordinator has to be all things to all people! PA, catechist, youth minister, counsellor, catechist trainer, diplomat, administrator, cook, liturgist, technician, babysitter, housekeeper…)But God is good (all the time!) and we are really blessed to have a great team leading this retreat, including a fantastic girl who has worked with us this month in the parish and two Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and some great priests who will be dropping in at different points. Thank God for great youth evangelists 🙂
I recently came across this excellent article by Amy Welborn on the foundational and effective steps of youth evangelisation. She is basically saying, forget the gloss, the gimics, the “window-dressing” – the Holy Father shows us how it’s done. She identifies five key points which are at the heart of our evangelisation of young people:
1. Teach them who they are
2. Continually hold up Christ as the answer
3. Seeking Christ? He gave us the Church so that we could find him
4. The way of the Christian is the way of the Cross
5. Go out to all nations
This weekend, we will focus on 1 and 2. Who they are and Christ. Jesus and you. He loves you and wants to have a living relationship with you. That is the core message.So, we have lots and lots planned hopefully to facilitate this happening. For many of our teenagers it will be the first time they have been to Confession in a long while. For many of them, they will encounter Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament perhaps for the first time.
I pray for an awakening in their desire for God! This is the foundation that is needed for them to receive this year’s catechesis with open hearts.
At the same time, I know that evangelising young people is tough. I know it’s going to be a difficult weekend with not much sleep and goodness knows what other problems, but… call me mad, but I think it’ll be worth it 🙂