Over 250 young people and leaders from the Clifton Diocese, led by Bishop Declan, attended Flame 2017, which saw almost 10,000 young people coming together to interact and celebrate their faith together.
The theme of the 2017 congress was 10,000 Reasons, encouraging the young people to be a part of 10,000 reasons to believe, hope, and pray. Fr Dermott Donnelly, chair of the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) encouraged all present to ‘experience the vibrancy and hope that … a new experience of Jesus brings’.
Music was provided by a range of musicians, from the community and music group, One Hope Project, Jasmine Elcock (Ant and Dec’s ‘golden buzzer act’ on Britain’s Got Talent 2016) and double Grammy award-winning Matt Redman. The theme itself was taken from Matt Redman’s song of the same name.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols delivered a message from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who hoped that Flame 2017 would ‘foster a greater zeal’ to ‘blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy’. Cardinal Charles Bo of Myanmar (Burma) explained the political and religious situation in the country, as well as inspiring the young people present to be courageous in making a difference in their own societies and beyond. The young people also heard from a range of speakers on topics from refugee care to environmental issues from Sarah Teather of the Jesuit Refugee Service and Fr Augusto Zampini Davies of CAFOD, respectively.
As part of CAFOD’s input for Flame, and a highlight for our diocese, young people from our Catholic Secondary schools who take part in the CAFOD Young Volunteers Course read out message of Hope for refugees.
Solidarity with and welcoming refugees was a key theme in many elements of the event. This was emphasised by the presence of a 30 foot boat that carried 37 people, from North Africa to Lampedusa, fleeing violence and war. During the afternoon Liturgy, Cardinal Nichols offered prayers for the estimated 10,000 refugees that have drowned whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. He then blessed Boat TO6411 as ‘a symbol of hope for people in despair … a symbol of new beginnings … a symbol of safety and a symbol of all our journeys, as one family, united in God’s love.’ This boat blessing was followed by a Liturgy of readings, prayers and adoration of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.
It was an inspiring day for the young people who attended from our diocese and we hope and pray that they will use the experience of faith and Church to be an authentic witness in their parishes and schools.
Pictures from Flame can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicism/sets/72157677930911123
Our pictures are below: