More than 350,000 minutes were pledged by more than 100 people last Monday at the vibrant London launch of Million Minutes, a new Catholic charity to raise money for projects supporting young people. The focus in 2011 will be raising £1m through a UK-wide sponsored silence around Sunday 8 May. Danny Curtin, a recent President of the Young Christian Workers, and Paschal Uche, the young man who welcomed Pope Benedict XVI on the steps of Westminster Cathedral during 2010's Papal Visit, urged people to download resources from the new website www.millionminutes.org.
Speaking at the launch, Million Minutes champion, Fr Christopher Jamison OSB, presenter of BBC TV programme The Big Silence, said: “this is a great way to bring together two really important and overlooked things: silence and young people”. Fellow champion Margaret Mizen, mother of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen, said it is important “that young people are supported to play their full role in society”.
She told ICN that Million Minutes will be working with the Jimmy Mizen Foundation to assist their work with young people on the theme of ‘Youth peace on the streets’. Other themes and partners include ‘Youth homelessness’ with the Cardinal Hume Centre, ‘Youth leadership’ with the Young Christian Workers and ‘Youth overseas’ with Progressio. Catholic cookery expert Delia Smith has already pledged to join the sponsored silence, along with many youth chaplains, teachers, parish priests and young people themselves.
The launch at St Mary Moorfields Church in East London was attended by the directors of youth services in at least six Catholic dioceses and youth workers from Catholic organisations such as Young Christian Workers and Pax Christi. Bishop George Stack, auxiliary in Westminster and Fr John Dale, Director of Missio, were also there in support. Danny Curtin, one of the founders, summed up with: “A few of us have thought for a while about how best to raise money for young people and raise their profile in the Church as well as in the rest of society and Million Minutes seems to be an idea whose time has come.”