More than 130 young volunteers gathered at the The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick from 2-4 January for the annual Volunteers conference. Attended by the volunteer teams from Catholic youth retreat centres and outreach projects, the young volunteers were accompanied by Directors and staff from all the centres and teams to form an impressive gathering of the youth ministry teams from throughout England. The conference was facilitated by Ruth Corless, Director of Youth Service in Lancaster Diocese and Rachael Cortes from Brettargh Holt Time Out Project.
The conference theme was ‘Heart speak unto Heart’ and helped us reflect on what this message of the recent Papal visit might mean for our youth ministry. The conference had as a focus for prayer the national symbol for Youth Ministry, blessed by Pope Benedict on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Many teams helped lead different elements of prayer and reflection and there was a great mix of the social and spiritual time throughout. Fr David O’Malley SDB gave three keynote addresses and left everyone present with plenty of food for thought for our own spiritual journey and also for our work and ministry. Workshops were led by CAFOD, Anna Cowell, Tom Baptist and others from around the youth services.
The conference culminated in a joyful celebration of the Eucharist, followed by dancing well into the night at our celidgh, led by Kelly’s Heroes. Everyone then left to return to their centres and teams; ready for the coming term to work with young people from all over the country.