Flame Congress

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.


About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

One response to “Flame Congress

  • Fr Tom Smith

    Well I have to agree about FrYimothy Radcliffe, but what I found even funnier was that a young person from our group thought he did it as a joke to pretend he was out of touch, if he did he is a lege!

    I also agree that is was the best thing ever doNe in catholic youth ministry, Infact I would say that it is a water shed moment, no one will ever be able to put on a national event that is not that good again.

    Edwin was amazing, I knew him when he was 14 everyone!

    Might it be a bit harsh to suggest that many of those young people don’t practise their faith, many in our diocesan group appeared to go to mass, the question is though are we making a church they are excited to be part of at a parish level? Those who don’t go regularly or at all is often because their parents don’t go, the ‘forgotten’ generation or making the younger generation forget too!

    Great blog

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