Fresh Experience of Conversion

One of the things I do in my spare time is serve on the leadership team of Youth 2000 (ha ha, I know – normal people take up zumba or buy nice things from Boden…) I first had my conversion ten years ago through Youth 2000 when I was 17. So it is a great, great joy to continue to serve. Every year at Walsingham I wonder when will be my last year, when the Lord will make it clear that this has come to an end. But, somehow, it never grows stale and I continue to receive so many graces through Youth 2000.

Leadership team being commissioned at this year’s festival

One of the beautiful things about Youth 2000 is that it brings you right back again to the fresh experience of conversion. It brings you back to basics – being simple and humble, open and intimate with Christ. It is so beautiful to see this journey beginning in young souls. I don’t have dramatic experiences of God’s love anymore like I did when I was going to retreats at 17 and 18. God needed to get my attention back then, and now my faith has deepened and strengthened, so now it is more a daily experience of his love in my life. But on Sunday night, we heard testimony after testimony from young people, all aged between 16 and 21, of the powerful experiences of God’s love they had received through Confession and the Eucharist. They often articulated them nervously, but an authentic, unmediated experience of joy, peace and freedom from having just been touched by Christ, radiated from each one.

I am sure that, this hidden work of the Holy Spirit and the open response of each individual, young soul is the most precious thing in the whole Church, the whole world!

When I was 17 I didn’t quite realise how precious it was, and perhaps those young people who with such courage and faith got up to give their testimony, don’t either. No one gets to see these miracles within souls. The humility of the Lord in working in such a hidden way is exquisite. But this is exactly what is beautiful about being a Catholic – the joy of being touched by Christ. If we ever lose sight of that, we are lost!

One of the team updated her status:

Just had an incredible experience with about 20 other young people, most aged 16 or 17, who chose to sacrifice sleep and come pray & worship in adoration from 3-4am, or the “power hour”, as we call it! I was really touched seeing these teens pouring their hearts out in prayer to God at that time of the morning – 3am has a new meaning for me, I think!

Over the weekend, I couldn’t help thinking of CT 5 (yes, I know, CT 5 is never far from a catechist’s mind 😉 ):

“the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ”

This is something that is achieved at Walsingham without a shadow of a doubt. Over the space of five days, hundreds of teenagers and young adults have their faith awakened, it is as though their souls rise from the dead, from sleeping; they repent of their sins, experience healing in Christ and the joy of relationship with him.

It’s a winning formula! However, I am very aware that, in our parish programmes, we rarely see the same depth of conversion after a year’s catechesis.

Here’s the theme song from this year’s festival: ‘The lost are found, the blind will see, the lame will walk, the dead will live…’ We really saw this at Walsingham! The deepest prayer in my heart is that we are able to put people into intimacy with Christ in the parish, too, so that we witness the same kind of miracles…

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

2 responses to “Fresh Experience of Conversion

  • Geraldine

    Wow, this sounds like a wonderful event. I’m starting the Maryvale Certififcate in RCIA Catechesis in October (here in the UK) and I’ve been asked by my parish priest to help lead our RCIA course starting this September. I’m very concerned about how I can make it an inspiring and fruitful experience for everyone involved. We will be using lectionary based catechesis in our parish RCIA meetings but I was wondering if it would be worth inserting the Anchor course into our sessions, maybe once every 4 weeks? I want to be able to pass on Catholic Tradition and Faith with confidence!

  • transformedinchrist

    Hi Geraldine! Thanks for your comment.
    Great to hear about your involvement in RCIA – it is a wonderful process.

    One thing to remember is that the structure of the RCIA teachings is really important. Each should follow systematically from the one before it, so that you are building a “whole picture” of the Faith, and how each doctrine links to the others. This is a disadvantage of lectionary-based catechesis because you can’t guarantee that the doctrines linked to one Sunday’s Gospel will build on the ones from the previous week. In fact, you can’t even ensure that all doctrines will be covered.

    Having said this, I understand you have to work within the structures already in place in your parish.

    It also means that it is better that Anchor sessions follow on from each other, so that the doctrines follow logically and systematically. We have to ensure that certain truths are taught before others, as some are more foundational than (and shed light on) others.

    Your Certificate in RCIA catechesis will cover all of these things – it is brilliant you are doing it – it will be a great help!

    very best wishes for your great work and God bless! Hannah

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