Well, you have to admit it. CYMFed did a great job. Ten years ago Catholic youth ministry could not have pulled together something like that. Twelve years ago when I was confirmed, the local ‘youth ministry expert’ came to run a post-Confirmation day with us which, among other things, involved us painting a stone with something that expressed who we were. At fifteen years old, this activity, to put it mildly, turned me off being a Catholic quite considerably and sent me off in search of much less cringeworthy evangelical youth gatherings with my friends. Nowadays, going by what we saw at Flame, there aren’t many youth ministry gurus left who would subject teenagers to painting stones.
Our teenagers loved it. Highlights were the Glee musical flashmob and the interview with Paralympian Stef Reid. I admit that my group leader friend and I laughed out loud with embarrassment at Fr Timothy Radcliffe’s wonderful “Ri-Hanna” blip. But, ironically, it was one of my fifteen-year-old brother’s best bits: “Yeah that priest dude was a legend!” Err…really? Well, OK then. If you say so.
Most impressive by far was the fact that thousands of Catholic teenagers (most of whom, let’s face it, were not practising their faith) participated in moments of silent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a packed out Wembley Arena. That, along with Edwin Fawcett’s considerable talent at getting young people to sing and actually enjoy themselves, and Paschal Uche’s never-failing ability to inspire young people in their faith, showed our country’s youth ministry at the best it’s ever been (in my lifetime, anyway). God bless Paschal Uche. He is a household name now in Catholic circles and is invited to speak at just about everything. Paschal dropped into the parish yesterday and I was only glad he left right before the Confirmation candidates arrived as we’d have had lots of starstruck girls on our hands.
Now, onward and upward…
In the next post or two, I’d like to share some reflections on where youth ministry can still improve from here.