Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Another blog for Spain...

For those of you who want more to read over the summer, pop over to where Greenwich Deanery will take you on a journey through their preparations for Wolrd Youth Day this summer.

Also, you can LIKE their FB page- cleverly titled the same as the blog.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Pope has gone.....

......and now it is our responsibility to reap the fruits of his Visit. And what a visit!

400 000 people saw our Holy Father at some stage.

He met with the Queen, the Prime Minister & the Deputy Prime Minister, spoke to Parliament, stood on the spot St Thomas More was tried, presided jointly with Rowan Williams over an ecumenical evening prayer and of course, beatified Cardinal Newman.

I have travelled with the Pope since early Saturday morning, which is why Dani has been doing all the posting! The Mass at Westminster Cathedral was stunningly beautiful and reverent, a reverence that flows from the Holy Father's own profound holiness during the celebration of Mass. After that we walked through eerily quiet streets to Hyde Park for the prayer vigil. There was a great atmosphere, more akin to a festival than a religious service, and the arena was full, which made for fantastic images.

The Pope's reflections on Cardinal Newman during the Vigil were deeply impressive, just as everything he has said has been: you must get copies of all his talks and read them carefully! He also invited all the young people present to World Youth Day, which was excellent. That's the next project!

I then slept on a sofa at Holy Ghost Balham before joining the parish's pilgrims for Cofton Park. We left at 1.30am. It was definitely worth it, though: the Beatification Mass was absolutely amazing and once again the atmosphere was both exuberantly joyful and deeply prayerful.

This is a weekend that will stay with us all for a long time.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A sensational day- interview with Carmela Tucker

Whilst waiting in a queue to get into Hyde Park, I caught up with an old friend, Carmela Tucker to find out how she was finding the day. Carmela is a 20 year old from a small parish in Whitstable Kent in the Archdiocese of Southwark who has just finished her gap year working for Southwark Catholic Youth Service in the residential centre and is currently preparing to start university. I asked her six quick questions to get her thoughts on this historical state visit.

So what are you enjoying most about the day?

I've really enjoyed the opportunity to see the Pope, being part of the crowd and experiencing the frenzy that surrounds the leader of my Church. I also value his wisdom and inspired words that produce thoughtful doctrines.

Why did you want to be here today?

I wanted to see the Pope! I also wanted to see friends again from WYD and be part of something massive and historical. WYD- World Youth Day is a massive gathering of young Catholics and it's a chance to celebrate our faith together. I was at the last one in 2008 in Sydney. It was just amazing.

Justin Turner, Greenwich Deanery leader, spoke of the encouragement the visit gives young people to get involved in the life of the Church. "I belive that the most valuable thing young people can take away from a huge Papal Event like this is a renewal of their faith. Saturday's events were not only uplifting but also very inspirational. The Holy Father spoke directly to us as young people and gave us a new courage that as the future of the church we are of high importance and he has given us the hope that with our faith we can be all we want to be. We saw the Pope in a different light in that he seemed very at ease communicating with the youth and was very happy in our presence. Again this has given us more encouragement that the Church needs us and that we have a mission to get further involved."

What are your reactions towards protestors, do they bother you?

Well they have their opinion and that's cool. I saw a poster saying 'Condoms save woman's lives' which is a bit frustrating as I don't think that's the right message. One condom can save one lady/man's life I agree- but it also prevents life. 1 condom, 1 person but millions of babies are prevented from living.

Pope Benedict XVI or John Paul II?

I prefer JP II but I like the Pope in general as an inspirational figure. This state visit is a part of history and I was a part of that!

Do you think the young people here understand or appreciate the magnitude of this event?

Yeah, I think so. I reckon most people here REALLY get it, just look at the amount of people here- there's loads of them! It's a testimony to the fact that everyone wants to be part of history. Faith is a big element of people's lives here- they wouldn't be here if it wasn't. I suppose there are also some young people here who are very curious about experiencing faith on this kind of scale, perhaps that is their reason for being here today. Nonetheless, it's a massive witness to our faith- showing and telling people that this is our Church and we are proud.

When speaking to one young person, it was clear that liturgy itself was incredibly important to her and when I asked her what was her favourite thing of the day, she said 'the mass'. I must admit, I was scared that the crowd may become apprehensive about the Latin mass, but it was simply gorgeous. Everyone was incredibly reverent and was able to follow it well, the booklets produced were very informative and the Magnificat booklet allowed people to join in with the hymns. The youth of 2010 were truly engaged and involved in a traditional mass, something I wasn't expecting to see.

If you could describe the day in one word, what would you choose?


So there you have it. Yesterday was a sensational day which allowed young people to celebrate their faith comfortably with their peers. People were not ashamed to be there, not ashamed of their faith and in actual fact spectacularly mature and respectful while being excited and full of life, what a balance to achieve! The Church is definitely a place for everyone and the youth really do want to be here. Let us now do what we can to continue to encourage and support each other in our faith journey, carrying forward the message of His Holiness to achieve stillness in our busy lives to find God and ultimately peace.

Young people want more

After mass this evening, the young pilgrims from Greenwich deanery were coming out of their youth group meeting. Clearly there is a strong desire to know and love God, and after a spiritually enriching Saturday, the community that had already been formed amongst the young people want to continue to develop and nourish their relationship with God. The Papal Visit may be over, but the faith that we share will continue to be alive and the Holy Father's visit rejuvenated and highlighted the energy and passion that is present in our Church- particularly among the young people.

Here is a link to a video clip I've uploaded to Youtube that a young person made yesterday

I hope that where ever you saw the Holy Father this weekend (in Birmingham or your front room), it was a special and blessed occasion.

Paving the way for legacy

On the way home last night, many of the young people were talking about how exciting the day had been and when I asked them if they were interested in going to Madrid for World Youth Day many of them started asking when it was and how much it would cost. Our parish have discussed sending three young people to Madrid, but by their reactions yesterday, we may have to consider some serious fundrasiing to ensure as many as possibe get to experence the week long pilgrimage.

I cannot begin to tell you how glad I was to hear Pope Benedict address us yesterday evening with the words 'I hope to see many of you at World Youth Day next year.' The crowd literally went mad and it's now that we must try to encorugae young people to seriously consider an opporuntiy to share their faith with young Catholics from all around the world and a chance to listen and reflect upon inspired words from the leader of our Church. Sadly, it can be difficult to ensure all this information gets to everyone (I didn't know World Youth Day exsisted until last year) and so many people who would benefit and enjoy such experiences don't ever come to know about them, so for the Holy Father to spread that message to 80,000 people was just magnificent. Let's hope social media tools will help us round up the numbers for next year.

For those of you in Southwark, has the relevant information and application forms are now available.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Day Three of the Papal Visit

I'm half asleep but I feel the need to jot down a few reactions to what was a humbling experience. For us the Greenwich deanery group, it was an early start to a packed day and on the way home their was a definite feeling of happiness and contentment. The day for us ran like clockwork and I felt honoured to share today's experience with such a lovely group of people.

The weather could not have been any better, the atmosphere was vibrant and Pope Benedict's message could not have been simpler- put Christ at the centre of everything.

As a young female black Catholic, it was also a great joy to see Paschal Uche address the Holy Father on our behalf; I think it's fair to say he was spectacular and did well to represent the Church of modern Britain: fresh, diverse and exuberant. What a role model for our young people of society.

One of the most touching aspects of the day was hearing Mr and Mrs Mizen speak of how grateful they were to the Church for their support during the grieving of their son, Jimmy Mizen. Their message of living a life of peace not anger was rightly received with a standing ovation, an indication of how relevant the issues they discussed are to life in 2010.

Liam McNally was fantastic and the Holy Father still had everyone eager for his presence- people still had the energy to chant Benedictus at 8.15 this evening.

I remember at our training day, Fr Dominic Howarth of Brentwood was concerned about boundaries between taking pictures to upload onto flickr to give those at home coverage, and people taking pictures and not paying attention to the words of the service. This evening, there was a swarm of people to greet Pope as he arrived in his pope mobile at Hyde Park. It was an enchanting sight for me as every type of phone and camera came out to immortalise His Holiness. We are a modern Church and a modern Britain and as things become easier to obtain at a much quicker pace, it was really heartwarming to see people rushing to do something that will last forever as a photograph. There is a desire, a hunger among the young people of the UK to know and love God and today some of the incredibly lucky ones got to take the technology of the 21st century to capture the representative of a Church more than 2000 years old.

I hope that those of you travelling to Cofton Park have a safe and blessed journey home, you are in my prayers.

The journey to Hyde Park begins...

Getting out of bed this morning wasn't too bad and a hot shower certainly seems to have helped. Hopefully I'll have some coffee in the next ten minutes and I'll be as happy as Larry for the rest if the day. Already I've had a text from a friend telling me that she will be on stage later today and she will be meeting with His Holiness. Joy and excitement has shyly surrounded this visit and it's only now that it is coming into its full majesty. Many people have been warmed by Pope Benedict's genuine genorousity and profound words, suggesting that the message of Christ is stretching even to those of no particular faith. Well that's my romantic hope I guess. Continue to keep up to date throughout the day with the events at Hyde Park at