Youth Gather 2019: ‘a special time of fun, friendship and faith’
Participant Rebecca Parsons writes:
From 26th-27th October, young people from across the Brentwood Diocese came together on Mersea Island for a special time of fun, friendship and faith. For some it was their first chance to be involved with the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service, and for others it was a reunion of those who travelled with the diocese as part of the Lourdes pilgrimage in July of this year.
The weekend was filled with outdoor activities which the young people enjoyed, even if they did get a little wet and muddy! They took part in activities such as a high rope course with a ‘leap of faith’ at the end, shooting arrows in archery, challenging themselves with the adventure course and travelling fast down a zip wire to name a few. These were wonderfully led by a team of staff and volunteers at the Essex Outdoor Centre at Mersea.
There were also many opportunities to reflect on our relationship with God, especially in these modern times. On Saturday we were joined by a panel of ‘BCYS alumni’ who had been a part of the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service over the last 10-15 years. They came to discuss the challenges of being a Catholic in their jobs and the modern world we live in. It was an interesting group of people, including a strategist in the Home Office, a Metropolitan Police Sergeant, a press worker for HMRC, a classroom teacher and a school lead practitioner. They also gave insights into being in Catholic relationships, as one of the panellists was engaged and two were married to each other. It was so interesting to hear the true and honest portrayals of the difficulties they face, and wonderful to listen as they described how having their faith provided support for them in their chosen vocations.
In the evening there was an extended time of prayer where young people spent an hour contemplating their belief in God and journey of faith. The Walsingham House Leaders, the Diocesan Retreat Centre Team, led different activities which included discussions on faith, meditation, Catholic mindfulness through colouring, Lectio Divina,’ God’s eye creations’ as part of an active prayer with Christ, letter writing and Adoration. They also had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This led into a fun-filled evening of quizzing between small groups and finished with prayer under the night sky.
On Sunday the young people had a chance to further explore aspects of their faith through different workshops run by the BCYS Leaders and the Walsingham House Team. This included music, art, signed song and media workshops, and for those seeking a more active experience they could work on their relationships through sport or looking at the Care of Creation through our Laudato Si session. In this session, young people considered their impact on the earth and looked at how they could recycle more, which ended in a catwalk challenge where the outfits were made from recyclable materials. It was a sight to behold!
The event was brought to a close with a beautiful Mass, which both leaders and young people contributed to. They created artwork around the theme ‘The God who Speaks’, led and performed music throughout the Mass and presented a signed song as a post Communion reflection.
This time together was a fruitful time for all to grow closer in their faith, building relationships with other young people from around the diocese and remember that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in Christ.