Tag Archives: walsingham

And the best youth ministry in the UK is…

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Maybe I’m ever so slightly biased, but it’s definitely one of the best examples of youth ministry there is.

And the reason Youth 2000 is so successful at enabling young people to encounter Christ, taste what life is like in Him, and so allow the Holy Spirit to transform their hearts – is because it’s all about Him – Jesus!

No gimmicks, no clever marketing strategies, (almost literally) no money… just young people passionate for their peers to experience the healing, transforming, beautiful love of the Lord.

This video is a wonderful example of exactly this – young people super-keen for others to experience the love they have experienced:

I’ve known Youth 2000 over the last ten years, and what has convinced me of the Lord’s guiding it, is the fact that – against all odds, with no official funding from dioceses, with extremely limited resources, and overcoming many difficulties – countless young people meet Christ, are converted, are transformed, through these retreats. Each year, the team of young people leading the retreat gets bigger, better, even more awesome. This year, over thirty young people aged 16-25 met for a weekend to pray for and plan for the Walsingham Festival – see more about Walsingham here.

Too often, we experience (still!) in churches – often at the parish Confirmation Mass – well-intentioned, older generations heartily singing ‘Here I Am Lord’ on the guitar, thinking that this is what young people like. What is unique about Youth 2000 is that it is all about peer ministry – young people evangelising young people themselves.

If you know any young person aged 16-25 – don’t hesitate to invite them to Walsingham this year (22-26 August).

As with any great work within the Church, it is often the hidden, little, under-resourced initiatives that are the most spiritually powerful and effective. This is definitely the case with Youth 2000. (Follow the new YouTube Y2konnected channel and see some of the testimonies or like the page on Facebook)

And finally, if you are too old for the festival, but have a heart for bringing young people to Christ – Youth 2000 finally paid off the bills for last summer’s Walsingham festival this spring. At the moment, young people are organising all the fundraising events you can think of (football tournament, music ministry night, a star-studded ball) to raise funds for this year’s festival (which in total costs £80,000 – participants are asked for a donation of £100 each, but many are students). If you are in a position to donate to this year’s festival and directly contribute to the evangelisation of the young, please contact the National Office who can advise you of a secure way of donating: info@youth2000.org.

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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…


Media Coverage of World Youth Day

You know I am a big fan of Fr Robert Barron and Word on Fire, and what he has to say about the mainstream media simply ‘not getting’ World Youth Day is insightful. World Youth Day did not ‘fit’ with the reading of reality that the media want to portray – ‘good’ ideologies gradually replacing the old, fading Christianity – which is why they focussed on what was insignificant (a few protesters) compared to what was significant and real – a convergence of 1.5 million of young people from around the world in one place, united by their faith.

I have just returned from a smaller scale youth event – but still probably the biggest Catholic youth event in the UK – the Youth 2000 Festival in Walsingham. Here, Jesus has shown us over the weekend that by simply being faithful to Him – facilitating an event where He is present for five days, and creating the conditions for young people to be drawn into and open to His Presence – He will Himself enter lives and transform hearts. Last night we heard testimony after testimony of teenagers and young adults in their early twenties, whose emptiness and brokenness had been filled and touched by Christ. Once again He has shown me how HE does all the work – we just need to be open to what He wants to do, and tirelessly extend an invitation to all young people – Catholic and non-Catholic – He desires each one of them to be intimately in relationship with Him.

Hopefully I will soon be able to share some photos with you of this event 🙂


“Humanity is loved by God!…”

…This very simple yet profound proclamation is owed to humanity by the Church.”

 

This line is from a document issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family in 1995, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. Clearly it is a message thousands of young people need to hear urgently given the events of the past week in the UK.

Blessed John Paul II knew that young people needed to know the love God has for them, which is why he started the World Youth Days.

How timely it is that at this time millions of young pilgrims from around the world are getting ready to go to Madrid for World Youth Day, to hear of and experience the love of God.

At the end of August, there is another, more local, event to which young people each year gather to learn of and receive the love of God into their hearts: the Youth 2000 summer festival at Walsingham. Sometimes it seems like the Church is merely whispering the reality of God’s love to young people who are asleep, when we really need to enter their reality and proclaim it loudly so that they can hear. This is why events like the Youth 2000 festival in Walsingham are so important.

Here are a couple of clips: One about World Youth Day and one about Youth 2000. It’s not too late for young people to book for the Youth 2000 festival.