Thursday, 22 December 2016

Counting our Blessings : Youth 2000's 2016

Our World Youth Day Trip

By Maria Byrne, Youth 2000's World Youth Day group co-leader

What an incredible blessing it was for Youth 2000 UK to be present at this year’s World Youth Day in Krakow. Our group really experienced 'pilgrimage' in the truest sense. If you can spend over 24 hours on a coach with people you’ve just met, walk for 7 hours to sleep outside in a field just so you can celebrate mass with another couple million  young people (oh and Pope Francis), and persevere through multiple blisters, sunburn, tiredness and still come away saying with joy, “That was completely worth it”, you know there’s something more than what meets the eye. God was working in our hearts in those days and we came away changed in some way.

“World Youth Day for me was a week of spiritual reflection which I will never forget. One special memory I have was kneeling in the Divine Mercy Centre during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament and despite the hundreds of young people around, there was an indescribable sense of stillness and peace that touched me. I felt that I was recharging my faith by being with Youth 2000 and it ultimately reminded me of why I choose to remain close to Christ every day.”

-          Talissa, 18

“One of my favourite things about World Youth Day was the sense of unity and friendship I felt being surrounded by people from every corner of the world, all gathered in Krakow. The moment that best represents this and something which is a highlight of the whole experience for me was when during the Saturday night vigil Pope Francis asked everyone to join together for a few minutes of silence by holding hands - it was such a powerful moment to be a part of.”

-Sophie, 19

"As ordinary as it may sound, the highlight of my World Youth Day experience was walking through the door of mercy at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, it truly felt like God's mercy was flowing abundantly upon me and I was overwhelmed with emotions. And of course not to forget being a part of the millions of young Catholics from all over the globe reminding the world that the young Catholic Church is alive and buzzing!"

-Tanisha, 19

The Mercy Tour

By John Withers, Youth 2000 Regional Development coordinator and Mercy Tour manager

The Mercy Tour began with the finest Chinese takeaway Gainsborough had to offer. It was a gift shared between friends, and as often happens, between all the laughter, the meal was a melting pot of great conversation filled with courageous and passionate visions of what God might be asking of us. We arrived at a two week, non-stop tour of churches and cathedrals in 12 cities across the UK, with the goal of providing a clear opportunity for young people to respond to the call to mission with generous hearts in the Year of Mercy. It was ‘wild and reckless’, and exactly what God was asking of us.

Fast-forward five short months and 21 young missionaries were in the thick of one intense timetable, harking back to the days of the old Youth 2000 mission team. Driving up to 300 miles in a morning, we would then hit the streets in the afternoon to talk and pray with strangers, and to invite them to that night’s ‘Mercy Evening’, a candle lit service that took the best bits of Youth 2000’s Eucharist-centred reconciliation service and crossed it with the openness of a Nightfever.

My experience of faith as a young man has been that the call to mission (see Matthew 28:18-20) has driven my desire for holiness, the more I give the more I want and need to receive, and it was beautiful to see this lived out in the hearts of the young missionaries on the tour. They poured themselves out in their conversations on the streets, heart speaking unto heart, and their generosity of spirit was often returned to them, people respond to generosity, they respond to love. The chains were off and each day we grew in boldness, our target for evangelisation snowballed astronomically from inviting people to light a candle, to asking what we could pray for, to praying for people right there and then. We really desired to love and meet people where they were, to walk and talk with them, to make prayer here and now.

Thousands lit candles, hundreds prayed with us, many stepped into a church for the first time and we continue to pray for all of them. We are also immensely grateful to every diocese that hosted us on our way and to both the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom who partnered with Youth 2000 in providing much of the funding for The Mercy Tour.

The Youth 2000 Blog

By Isaac Withers, Youth 2000 Blog Editor

Well this is pretty meta - the blog writing about the blog...

A absolute fruit of The Mercy Tour with the little time we had in between van-packing, the blog has been a really great venture. We're at post 20 as you read this and our ever-expanding team of writers show no sign of slowing down. I think it's been a gift on two fronts. 

Firstly, as a writing experience. The conversations you can have at a Youth 2000 retreat are so rare in how fun and deep and wide-ranging they can be. As soon as we started blogging, I knew I could fall back on some seriously good friends, to put these conversations we were having about uni and life and faith and films and everything, out there for people to see. It's been a joy to help other young people express their causes and struggles and I know for all of us, publishing these parts of our faith journeys has been really cathartic.

And then the second side of it is you guys, the readers. It's been so fun to bump into random friends who anonymously read something, who'd then talk to you about it. Or people who've forwarded blogs along to their friends who are struggling. And it's been amazing to see the unity it has been able to achieve across church divides and denominations, as Catholics from other movements get involved, or my friends from the CU or Methodist friends read. And of course, just telling stories about Jesus would do that, so we'll keep it up.

P.S. should you want to write for us, we're literally just an e-mail away.

Conquerors : The biggest Walsingham Festival yet

By Christina Lynas, National Director of Youth 2000

Wow, just wow! Four months on and as I think back on Conquerors I still feel AWE in my heart!

It would be easy for me to talk numbers, to say how many people God drew to the festival, with people spilling out of the big top. It really was bigger than ever. It was such a gift from God, to have so many of his children together, with Him, face to face, hearts, souls, lives, being changed forever! These blessings are so intimate, so personal, so hidden, that often it is only God who truly sees the beauty of the change within. So I would like to share the hidden blessing I received at Conquerors, with you.

I encountered God’s love.

It was warm and comforting and energising... and it tasted like coffee!

Let me explain. I love coffee… but it wasn’t in the coffee that I encountered His love, it was in the warm smiles of numerous friends who brought me coffee while they were just as busy as me. It was in the sacrificial serving of my friend. As they manned the cross roads and told me to go back to the big top and spend time with Jesus, it was in the smiles from the kitchen team as they told me they had it all under control, it was in the love of countless team members who kept smiling and laughing as they stacked chairs, picked up litter, made announcements, cleaned toilets, looked after the sick, made yet another sandwich and sang their hearts out! It was in the hundreds of these 'little acts of love' that I saw the beauty of God’s heart once more.

It was a complete privilege to serve with people who love God and loved me, in all my imperfectness. Thank you guys and thank you God!

We Believe : the Music Ministry album

By Edward Morton, 'We Believe' co-producer

It was about April when we got the green light for this album, on a day when John and Leo (two music ministry members) were at my house. I immediately called up the studio and booked us in for the next day to start the recording process. After months of discussing this album it was finally becoming a reality.

It’s still all a bit of a blur. That first day, we gave trusty Tom Sellers a call and like a flash he appeared at the studio with a car full of guitars amps, violins and every other piece of gear you could imagine. We bundled it up the narrow staircase into the dark but ambient light of dB Studios where our old friend and my co-producer Sim was there to welcome us. After three crazy days, a night tracking drums with Fred and so, so much coffee we had the bones of and 8 track album. Next, Fr Chris dropped by and, in one take, nailed his songs. There are a few more stories, one including John Withers recording vocals in his underwear, John Watts & Crick driving up from Brighton for the day just to lay some vocals, Isaac arriving after being up all night revising for his exams. There were a few more hardships too but there was a lot of Joy.

It was then time for me to retreat with Sim to flesh the bones out. It was a really daunting time as my personal life seemed to be falling down around me. Progress was slow and sometimes it was so hard to find the sense of spirit of the album when my own heart was all over place, but I knew it had to be a narrative of hope. I find that when the inspiration isn’t there, that that is just when you need work harder. Sometimes you just need to graft for the Lord, with the thankless grind of long hours that become prayer. Throughout, I was reminded to at all times trust in the Lord and his plan, to work as a team, to forgive swiftly, to act kindly, and, ultimately, to be loving.

Moving to Walsingham

By Nicky Lynas, Youth 2000's Walsingham Development coordinator

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!” Isaiah 43:19

So we finally landed in Walsingham, boxes unpacked, new shelves built & Our Lady in pride of place. What an incredible blessing it is for Youth 2000 to be based in Walsingham! It is the quiet season now, God is easing us in, only a few bus load of pilgrims a week, but already we are seeing the beginnings of God’s plan for us here. We have been able to share with the pilgrims the work of Youth 2000 and ask for their support & prayers. It’s amazing to be so near to the foundations of the replica of the Holy House requested by Our Lady to be built here. Each week we become more aware of the grace that is present here in this Holy Place set apart by God. We can’t wait for you to visit us here! 


From all of us at Youth 2000, a huge thank you for your prayers and support in 2016!

Have a Merry Christmas, and if we don't see you at Greater Things, have a blessed new year too.



  1. It is so heartwarming to see that the spirit of the church is alive and well in the youth of today. God bless you all for delivering the word of the savior such as you do. It is great to see the young stand up for what they believe in and spread the gospel to the hearts of the saved.

    Carson Coronado @ Old St Marys Detroit

    1. Thanks so much Carson! It's so cool to see this project is reaching Detroit - the internet can be a great place :D Please keep all our work in your prayers


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