I’ve just come back from a fantastic weekend in Jersey organised by Mary Cahill and all the youth leaders, volunteers and young people from the Jersey Association of Catholic Youth (JACY). What a team!!!! Everyone volunteered their time and talents for young people from all over the island to help them prepare for Pentecost and their confirmation – and have fun!
The day included a prayer experience in the chapel and a CAFOD workshop on how the Gifts of the Spirit can help us make a difference to the injustice we see in the world. We talked about what makes a hero, the heroes we look up to in our own lives and the special gifts they have. We then watched a very short video of Luis, a 19 year old from El Salvador who works with street gangs and discussed the ways in which he demonstrates courage, understanding and knowledge in his life and his attitude to his faith.
We ended with a reflection on how we might follow his example and do something, however small, to help change our world. I gave out cards and asked everyone to write an action that they could then take home with them and carry out. However, whilst clearing up I found one that had fallen out of a folder. As it didn’t have a name on, I couldn’t return it to the right person but what they’d written really made me stop and think; ‘I will pray for everyone who is in need and those who have no one praying for them’. I now have this on my desk here in the office – to remind me to do the same.
The workshops were then followed by really thought provoking sessions on the ten commandments and the sacraments – both designed to help everyone think carefully about the faith journey they are on in their own lives. And the event was only just starting!!!!
The late afternoon saw the start of a Walk of Witness to the Oasis of Peace which included a Faith Fact Search and culminated in a special BBQ and party. Activities then went on into the night! Night prayer and a candlelight procession into St Matthews was accompanied by beautiful guitar music and song. Each young person was then invited to meet with Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament at the well inside Oasis House during the night. And those that wanted to stay up a little later could visit a special prayer room and watch a DVD on the Acts of the Apostles – all before collapsing into bed in one of the tents in the garden.
The attention to detail in everything we did – from registration, to the workshops, to the walk, the quiz, the check points, the prayer stations – everything – the sheer creativity of the whole day was really inspiring – as was everyone’s cheerful willingness to give up so much of their time to make sure each person had the very best experience they possibly could. JACY is amazing!
I spent a large amount of time at the party in the kitchen – chatting to everyone – ‘supervising’ the microwaving of potatoes (because that really is just about all I can do in the kitchen), eating all the special bread (and then blaming its sudden disappearance on anyone who had just passed through the area) and working out the best strategy to balance my burger and potato on my plate without tipping it over alongside the hungry hoards outside! I can’t remember when I last laughed as much as I did that night!
Somehow everyone (not me mind!) managed to get up again at 5.45am (which means the leaders must had had about 2 hours sleep by my calculations!) have breakfast and go to morning prayer before getting the bus back to their own Masses of election on Sunday morning. All the young people were brilliant and the leaders are heroes!!! I’d just like to say a huge thanks to Mary and everyone I met on the day for making me feel so welcome. It was a real wrench to leave and I can’t wait to go back to see everyone again! Thank you so much for inviting CAFOD to be a part of such a great weekend!