Tag Archives: new year retreat

New Year Youth Retreat

Br John Baptist's hand is now famous...

Br John Baptist’s famous hand (featured on all the publicity)…

WOAH. Dear readers, even now, over 24 hours later, I cannot contain my joy. I know I have written on this blog many times (e.g. here and here) having just finished at a Youth 2000 retreat, overwhelmed with joy and praise at what God has done. And this new year’s retreat was no different. How can you capture in a few words the freedom, peace, joy and contentment that comes from being filled with God’s completely-satisfying love and that forms us into a new family? We experienced what God became a tiny Child for, what he died on the Cross for – to transform us into new creations and create a communion among us that we could never create ourselves. It does not get ANY better than this! Today, Facebook is overflowing with statuses wishing we could turn back time and surround Jesus in the Eucharist again with our songs of praise. I think we tasted just a crumb of the glory that awaits us in Heaven…

Some of my personal highlights:

The joyful and untiring ministry of our priests… Many young people today are heavily burdened, are suffering deeply, and have a lot of brokenness in their hearts. There is so much damage that the devil does in young hearts through our broken culture and I know that Jesus wants to pour his grace out upon these young people. I saw this happening – through the whole retreat – through the priests. They heard hours and hours of Confessions, spent hours talking and praying with young people, no sooner had one young person left with a heavy burden lifted than the next one arrived. I saw – incredibly tangibly – the ministry of Jesus active in his priests. It made me realise with more urgency: we need more priests! Priests faithful to God and faithful to people; who are unconditionally surrendered to the Holy Spirit, and who understand deeply the joys and struggles of young people today.

Our inspiring, outstanding, star-studded team…Β I couldn’t get over how much God blessed us with our team this year. From the first day, when a group of new MCs (the people who lead the prayer in the retreat) arrived early for training before the retreat started, we were surrounded by a truly talented team of young leaders in love with Christ. A couple of times I looked around and thought God has given Youth 2000 the very best young leaders and musicians in the country πŸ™‚ How generous he is… We are so immensely challenged by resources, and yet he sends the very best people. And what a great joy and privilege it is to work with them. I love you guys!

The endless praise!Β The greatest thing to do, when you are completely exhausted (as I was a couple of times during the retreat), is to praise God anyway. Truly, I think we could have kept going all night… How beautiful it is to praise Jesus.

Effective youth ministry really has a very simple recipe πŸ™‚ The conversions that have happened over one weekend are countless… it works! Photos to come… In the meantime, one of the theme songs of the retreat:

New Year Youth Retreat

Here are some photos from our new year youth retreat – it seems a long time ago now, but there is still lots of excitement about it on Facebook… Here’s a taster from this really blessed weekend. Courtesy of Edward Morton Photography.

Happy New Yes…

20120103-185009.jpgOn New Year’s Day, the Youth 2000 retreat sadly (and exhaustingly!) came to an end. The four days were heavily laden with the grace and glory of God; for many, many young people it was a moment of personal conversion as they encountered Christ in Confession, spent quiet time with Him in the Eucharist day and night, and expressed and received their joy and love in times of praise.

Now I feel that this New Year is truly a time of newness – God makes all things new in Christ! He does this again and again in our lives, transforming our hearts more than he changes the situations we find ourselves in – precisely because this is how he transforms these situations. Especially coming from such a blessed few days I feel that this new year is a time when we can allow God to make all things new in us. Even – and especially – those situations or relationships we feel are hopeless, cannot change, will never be life-giving – perhaps these are precisely the things we need to surrender to the Lord in this new year to allow Him to transform them. Expectant faith seemed to be one of the themes of our retreat. The woman with the hemorrhage who approached Jesus didn’t think to herself, “Maybe he will heal me” – she knew that if she touched him, he would heal her. Let’s not give our problems to the Lord thinking, “Maybe he will transform them” – let us know and be assured that he will transform them – in the best way, at the best time.

So, being sure of the newness that the Lord brings – each morning! – we can be courageous at the beginning of this year in once again saying YES… Whatever trials or discomfort this Yes will bring, whatever changes it will require me to make to my plans, whatever comfort zones I will be invited to step out of, whatever areas of sin I will be asked to relinquish… Let us say a wholehearted Yes to the Lord at the beginning of this new year, 2012. He will make all things new.

New Year Retreat

20111219-161526.jpgThis is the enormous pile of over 250 personal invitations which were sent out to all the lucky 16 to 25 year olds in our parish! πŸ™‚ Every year between Christmas and the New Year in the parish we host a youth retreat which is held in the church and the primary school. Over the four days and especially on New Year’s Eve around 300 young people turn up for these days of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, teaching, Mass, Confession and joyful celebration. These are always a very blessed few days, with many conversions, young people returning to the sacrament of Confession, being affirmed in their faith through friendship with other young Catholics, and time to reflect on and speak with others about their vocation. As someone who discovered the beauty of Christ and the Church through Youth 2000, I have a great love of serving at these retreats and pray that many young people will hear the voice of Christ, longing to speak to their heart, longing to give them his joy and peace. This year will be extra special since my sisters, brother and brother-in-law-to-be will all be coming too so we get to continue celebrating Christmas together πŸ™‚ May the Holy Spirit open the hearts of those young people who attend this year to prepare them for the grace of encounter with Christ.

If you know a young person who would like to participate in this retreat, please see http://www.youth2000.org for more details or call 020 8675 2743.