Following on from my visit to Youth 2000 retreat in Killarney in April, I looked forward to the Summer Festival at Cistercian College, Roscrea which took place last week end. I joined the Presentation Brothers’ Youth Ministry Team: Silvia and John together with Brothers Stan, Douglas, Theiva and Barry.
In excess of 1,000 young adults gathered to celebrate and deepen their faith in a safe and supportive environment. One youthful adult attending for the first time said to me he thought it would be all old people in attendance but he was shocked to see so many young people and that was very reassuring. It was he said like being part of one big family, the family of God where he felt a sense of belonging, united around Christ through adoration and the Eucharist.
The theme of the festival was, “Receive my mercy...inherit my kingdom”. Thursday was Gathering Day, Friday was Mercy Day, Saturday was Mary’s Day and Sunday was Mission Day. It was great to catch up again with friends and make more new friends in Roscrea.
It was a festival full of variety. It included adoration, inspiring talks, music, prayer, drama, share groups, testimonies, workshops, reconciliation and healing service and Mass. It was a packed programme but there was also time for chatting, relaxing, field games and generally chilling out. I experienced a lovely sense of joy and camaraderie throughout the four days. It was a gathering of friends that cut across, age, ethnicity, background, culture and personality.
A number of excellent workshops were offered on Friday and Saturday afternoon. I would have loved to sample all the workshops but four was as many as one could attend over the two afternoons. There was a workshop on ‘Dodgy Stuff’ (New Age Movements) and the cost of discipleship. Other workshops included exploring love and relationships, faith in media (spirit radio), pro-life, lectio divina, discovering your vocation, pure in heart, a tour of the Monastery and others.
There were faith groups with display stands in the assembly hall offering information to interested seekers. Personnel were present at display stands to distribute literature or answer questions was Vocations Ireland, Shalom T.V. Legion of Mary, NET Ministries, Pro Life, Newman College (Derry), Cana, Mary’s Meals and many others.
For many people to whom I spoke, the healing service was a lovely experience for them followed by reconciliation. Bishop Phonsie Cullinane, Waterford and Lismore Diocese led the Mass on Friday while Archbishop Charles Brown, Papal Nuncio was the main celebrant at the Saturday Mass. Both encouraged the youth to be strong in standing up for their faith and to use the festival to overcome any fear they may encounter beyond the festival. A number of those who attended will represent Youth 2000 at World Youth Day in Poland at the of the month.
I acknowledge the weeks of preparation and hard work by Lana Wilson, National Director and her team of dedicated volunteers at national level. Well done to all concerned! Youth 2000 continues to grow in strength throughout Ireland. In the words of Lana, it is about, ‘Youth leading youth to the heart of the Church’and I know many are looking forward to the next Youth 2000 event.