|Francisco F. in Westminster Diocese Papal Visit shirt|
With only ten days to go until the big man arrives, is it any wonder the youth of Westminster Diocese are feeling enthusiastic about the mission they have been called for by the Almighty above?
On Sunday 5th September 2010, 130 16-20 year olds consisting of representatives from parishes and schools were briefed on their duties at Westminster Cathedral piazza and Hyde Park.
It's going to be the merriest chaos these kids and young adults will encounter, as they are meet with thousands of other Catholic youth from 26 other dioceses in England and Wales (perhaps Scotland too?) in a multitude of rainbow colour. Westminster Diocese got the red!
Overall group leader Dave Burke, director of Youth Ministry for the diocese, arranged the successful afternoon of peer-meeting and information gathering. The energetic and vibrant entourage received a succinct low-down on who Pope Benedict XVI is, why John Henry Cardinal Newman is about to be beatified, and how the practicalities of Westminster Cathedral piazza as well as Hyde Park attendance will work for them and their parents/guardians.
As much as it is for them, this journey is also one of great significance for me too. Asked if I would fill in as a group leader for Fr. John who had to leave early for evening Mass, my prayerful question to God on whether He wills me to involve myself with youth work was answered. I felt in no way prepared to be a leader (even for just half an hour!), but I thank the Holy Spirit and Dave Burke for that small window of opportunity to discover the potential fulfillment of youth work. These amazing individuals helped me strengthen my faith in a single moment, and I was overjoyed at the future of the Church through these bright young faces; answering such questions as 'What three things would you ask the Pope?' with:
1) 'What took you so long?'
2) 'How are your cats?'
3) 'What message do you give to the young people of United Kingdom?'
Having been to a 'Protest the Pope Campaign' debate, and having witnessed first hand how abusive and offensive the protesters are likely to be, I was able to warn my group about what they may encounter, and this turned up as one of their biggest anxieties about the Papal events. Don't you agree it is such a shame, that these upstanding models of future Britain aren't anxious about being late for their 07:50 start that morning, or about the long waiting time, but instead are quite worried about other human beings who could potentially ruin their day with verbal abuse, and violent behaviour? No young person deserves this level of bullying, and I certainly hope that the outcome on the day will be positively amazing and spirit-filled for them.
Along with the red Westminster Diocese shirts, the group received young pilgrim booklets which will equip them for the Papal Visit with knowledge and prayer. As for me, well... my prayer has been answered, and now I begin researching what on earth youth ministry can offer me, and more importantly what I can offer youth ministry!