Michaela Blackwell (on the left above), a student at Cardiff University looks back on last weekend and the National Youth 2000 Retreat.
Last weekend young Catholics from all over Wales and the UK gathered at St. David’s Catholic Sixth Form for the Second National Youth2000 retreat for the youth of Wales. Once again the weekend brought so many young people together in their love of Christ, present all weekend in the Blessed Sacrament. The weekend was filled with inspirational speakers, including John Pridmore, an ex-gangster turned evangelist who gave his testimony of his conversion and witness of the beauty of confession, and Sr. Rebekah Marie who opened up to many young people for the first time the beauty of prayer. The workshops included an experience of contemplative prayer and lectio divina, top tips on surviving university and using social media to evangelise, along with ‘pure in heart’, and John Pridmore and the call to discipleship.
The weekend however would not have been the same without the powerful liturgies. Saturday evening was a particular highlight, with a beautiful reconciliation service which many of the local priests attended and heard confessions late into the evening due to the large queues of young people! The evening rounded off with a Eucharistic healing service, based on the story of the woman with a haemorrhage who reached out in faith to touch the cloak of Jesus, knowing she would be healed.
The loving atmosphere was greatly enhanced by the Youth2000 music ministry who provided both reflective and contemplative music along with a chance to completely lose our inhibitions in praise and worship of the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. We were especially blessed Sunday morning as we were joined by Archbishop George Stack, who celebrated Holy Mass with the retreatants as the retreat came to a close.
Some of the local Catholic students at Cardiff University who attended the retreat for the first time have given some beautiful testimonies:
‘Youth 2000 is one of God’s ways of helping us fall back in love with Him. The praise and worship we shared and thought provoking talks have brought me back closer to Christ than I ever thought one weekend could.’ – Sarah
‘I had an amazing opportunity to really let Jesus into my heart and feel God’s love through music, drawing, listening, speaking and silence.’ – Katey
‘Youth 2000 Retreat at Cardiff was certainly an amazing experience. The encounter with Jesus was definitely needed especially to kick of the lent season. Praise be to God for all the blessings received!’ – Damien
‘I knew a lot about confession from my previous retreats but every time I was going to confessions after there was a voice inside me saying God will never forget what you did. That haunted me for a while but after this retreat and the amazing talks I think I’ve “killed” this voice.’ – Nadia
A number of the diocesan clergy popped in over the course of the weekend including Deacon Michael Doyle. Deacon Michael is one of out six students for the priesthood and will, God-willing, be ordained to the priesthood later this year.
‘During the course of the weekend approximately 140 young people came through the doors at St. David’s College. The atmosphere of prayer was superb and everyone came away from the weekend marked in some way by the profound faith shared that weekend. Throughout the entire weekend the Blessed Sacrament was exposed with our young people getting up in the middle of the night to sit an hour with the Lord – a profound witness to the Presence of Christ and a testament to the journey of deepening faith of our young people’. – Deacon Michael Doyle
The Diocese of Cardiff looks forward to welcoming Youth 2000 back to Wales again next year.