This weekend (22nd-24th April 2016) myself and four other Salesian volunteers, Rachel Cortes, Sue McDonald, Jessica Wilkinson and Danny Sweeney, had the privilege of facilitating the Ignite stream of 'Celebrate', the Catholic Charismatic Conference. This was held at All Hallows Catholic College, Macclesfield. The Ignite stream was filled with twenty eight 11-14 year olds all ready to explore the theme of the conference which was “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8.
We explored each individual section of the main conference theme with a number of activities, games and discussions. We explored acting justly by reflecting on the refugee crisis and the situations refugees face when trying to seek asylum. We also took part in a mock trial for applying for asylum, asking each group of young people to put themselves in the shoes of a refugee, whose story they were given, and fight as them for their right to be granted asylum in the UK. The young people made really moving and passionate speeches, using the feelings they had felt during the earlier game and the stories of their refugee, they truly put themselves into that situation. We then explored walking humbly with our God, talking to the group about how we have to look to God as our guide in all situations. We played some games to show how it’s not always easy to hear someone guiding us when we can’t see or hear them but it is possible if we really concentrate and discover our own personal way to communicate with God that suits us. We also looked at the word humble and explored what that means to us today, in our everyday lives. Finally we explored mercy, and how all through this weekend we have seen great acts of love and mercy, to each other and through exploring the other two parts of the theme.
Throughout the weekend we praised God thanking him for all the blessings we have in our lives and adding them to our blessings board. We celebrated Mass with the whole conference each day, which was truly inspiring for everyone, each of the Masses where filled with total joy! We also had the privilege of welcoming Ros Powell into our Ignite group along with two of her prayer partners. Ros, a Christian Evangelist, told her testimony to the group and led us in a very moving and Holy Spirit filled prayer service. The young people opened their hearts to God and were filled with the Holy Spirit. It was beautiful to see young people praying over other young people and being open to whatever God wanted to do for them in that moment. We also welcomed into our group, on the Sunday, Steve Murray, who ministers to lots of young people and adults through mime. He inspired our young people and ourselves to think about “whose do we think we are, not who do we think we are” getting us to focus our minds on what God is calling us to do in our lives instead of just thinking solely about what WE want from our lives. Steve asked us to be counter cultural, to look to God and seek his path rather than looking to today’s cultural influences. He didn’t shy away from this idea and inspired us all to look again at how we live our lives out. His beautiful and powerful mime about temptations in our world really got us thinking about how we have to be constantly aware of the things we do in our lives, always “checking in” with God and allowing him to steer us in the right direction.
The whole weekend was one that I will never forget. I have come away totally inspired by the young people I met, who were so bold and never shied away from their love of Jesus. This weekend has taught me to be bolder, to “check in” with God more often and to look to him always to guide me in the right direction.
A big thank you goes to the Celebrate Team for this opportunity to work with incredible young people, to learn new ways of prayer and praise and be inspired.
'Say Yes', the Michelle Williams Beyoncé & Kelly Rowland song, was the soundtrack of our weekend: each time we felt a bit tired we put this song on and danced away our tiredness before starting back.