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Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Photo credit @ alobo

by Bro Paulin Meba SDB


After a break of four years due to Covid-19, the great Catholic bi-annual youth gathering organised by the CYMFed (Catholic Youth Ministry Federation), finally took off with a bang. It took place on Saturday March 4th, in the Wembley Ovo Arena -North London; a range of exciting activities were on the agenda. About 8. 000 young people from Catholic communities across England, Wales and Scotland took part. The day focused on the theme: “Rise up”, as displayed by the young Mary. In fact, after the event of the Annunciation by Angel, Mary ran to Elizabeth, her elderly cousin, to share with her the wonders of the Lord (Luke1: 26- 45).

This year’s gathering offered several tremendous activities. These included prayer services, with the final adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as the high point of the day, songs of praise and worship with great Gospel artists (One Hope Project, Adenike and Guvna B), and eminent speakers from all over the World (Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, SDB, from Australia; Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, from Rome; Robert Billot from the States, and Jenny Garzon Saavedra, from Colombia). The input covered different aspects such as faith today, the Environment…The speakers all challenged the participants to find out “what call God addresses them today, in order to build a better and just human society”, as Catholics.

The Salesians of Don Bosco – GBR province play a significant role in the event's organization alongside other congregations and organizations. Deacon Ste Llyod SDB read the gospel and exposed the blessed sacrament.

About 80 people from both the Sacred Heart parish, St John Bosco College, and the Salesian brothers well represented the Salesian Mission in Battersea along with the Rector, Fr Hugh Preston, and community members. We can find a video interview of the event prepared by Bro Luka and Fr Anthony on YouTube @sacredheartbattersea, which highlights the opinions and feelings of the participants in the arena.

Young people from Salesian presences across the country, seated in the front rows of the arena, stood out waving their salesian scarfs and banners.

Young people are the most precious part of every human society, says Don Bosco. And Jesus clearly shows this through his predilection for children and young people. He reveals himself as the perfect role-model for all young people as they grow and mature. Therefore, nothing is too costly for offering them sound opportunities to let “their light shine”, and be truly alive. “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. (…) Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! He is in you; he is with you and He never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One”. These are the very paternal and heart-warming words pope Francis addresses to his dearly beloved youth in the opening lines of his Encyclical Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive).

Christ is truly alive, and therefore wants all his friends alive. He encourages every young person to “Rise up” from the many challenges, the result of the recent pandemic, and make the most of some opportunities life offers today. Flame is one of these opportunities. It brings all Catholic young people from across the UK to experience particularly God’s loving presence in their lives, and to celebrate the joy of being together as a family, God’s family.

Some very moving, prayerful and inspirational moments left a profound mark on the soul of each participant. And as we look forward to the next event in March 2025, we are called to implement courageously all the resolutions this life-changing experience inspired in us to rise and be prophets of a new dawn.

We can access pictures of the event from the Flickr album of the Catholic Church of England and Wales.


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