Former 'modern pagan' reports on Youth 2000 first posted 7 September 2004

 The Youth 2000 Walsingham Festival of Prayer and Evangelisation took me from the West coast of England to the East for an August bank holiday weekend of intense Christianity.

It was my second experience of this festival, and my second year as a Catholic, having come to this Church as a pilgrim from "modern paganism", via the Charismatic-Evangelical and Anglican Churches. Immediately after my reception and Confirmation I discovered the charism of Youth 2000; adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist, basic evangelisation and contemplation of Christ in the Rosary... coupled with lively, evangelical-style songs and a certain youthful vigour! All the things I'd heard were lacking from Catholicism seemed to be present here, all the things I thought I had given up in my journey to the Church.

Providentially, I found a Youth 2000 prayer group near my home and went with them to Walsingham, where the biggest festival takes place. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the whole thing, and totally exhausted
at the end of it, but I took away from it a renewed hope and courage for the future.

This year the atmosphere of the festival seemed different; last year it had been a simple message of conversion and commitment to Catholic values. This time it seemed to go deeper; I had a sense that Youth 2000 now includes a broad base of young people who are keen to pass on the graces of evangelisation and formation we have received. There was a bit of the usual chaos when the rains arrived and the roof of the main marquee started leaking heavily, but it couldn't put a damper on proceedings! My highlight was the invocation of prayer to the Holy Spirit on Sunday night, when we joined arms and sang together in a kind of renewal of our Confirmation.

Coming back to Bristol I was pleased to see that our prayer group is still going strong, with a few new faces and an increased sense of community - there are usually a good few social activities in our group apart from Wednesday night prayers! My prayer is that the Holy Father's comment that Youth 2000 will be a source of renewal for the whole Church will be realised.

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