It was a privilege to be among a large number of young adults gathered for the Youth 2000 Munster retreat in St. Brendan’s, Killarney over the week end. It was wonderful to see the large gathering of youth give witness to their faith throughout the week end through prayer, faith-sharing, testimonies, talks, music and the celebration of the Eucharist.
Youth 2000 is a Catholic youth organisation that organises faith festivals, retreats, prayer groups throughout Ireland. It is a response to St. Pope John Paul II’s call at World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostella in Spain in 1989 to young people to evangelise each other by gathering together for events and experience the love of God in their lives. The organisation was formally founded in Medjugorje by an Englishman. Youth 2000 has spread in many countries and it was introduced to Ireland in 1993.
I experienced the week end as a gathering of friends that cut across age, ethnicity, background, culture and personality. Maura Fitzgerald, a young dynamic woman and one of the leaders said in her testimony; ‘one cannot be a Christian alone, today; we need the support of one another. Faith will never survive on its own, it will dwindle’. Youth 2000 offers that support for young people today.
It was like being part of one big family, the family of God where I felt a sense of belonging, united around Christ through adoration and the Eucharist. ‘Though there were time constraints, I experienced this sense of family, a connectedness and relationship during our small group sharing.
While many of the young adults gathered were coming from various prayer groups from around the Munster Region, there was a feeling that they were coming home for the week end. I was reminded of the words of Jesus; ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst’. It was an opportunity to be refreshed, revived, reinvigorated and re-energised in our faith.
Youth 2000 is focused on youth leading youth to the heart of the Church. It is completely volunteer-based and it depends on the generosity of volunteers. It depends on donations from organisations and people. The young leaders, men and women who organise these events deserve great credit. They give of their time, gifts and talents unselfishly for others. A special word of thanks to my fellow Brothers Stanislaus and Duglus and members of the local youth 2000 for receiving us so well! St. Brendan’s College made available their premises and grounds for the week end. It was hands on deck to oversee the organisation, on-campus accommodation, preparing the food, overseeing security and leaving the place ready again for the following morning. I acknowledge the weeks of preparation and meetings for the committees in the months leading up to the event. Well done to all concerned!
Next week end is the turn of the Leinster Region who host their gathering in Ashbourne Community School, Co Meath. The annual Summer Retreatl will take place in Mt. St. Joseph, Cistercian College Roscrea from 7–10 July with over 1,000 young people expected to attend. It also organises a Christmas retreat in Newbridge College, Co Kildare and an annual Valentine’s Ball in February. Plans are well under way for World Youth Day in Poland this July where over 80 members will travel for the occasion. Youth 2000 continues to grow in strength throughout Ireland. In the words of Lana Wilson, the national director, it is about, ‘youth, leading youth to the heart of the Church’ and it appears YK2000 is the only show in town, guys.