Members of Young Christian Workers (YCW) from around England and Wales gathered at Westminster Cathedral on Sunday, 1 May, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, their patron saint, to celebrate young people’s contribution to the Church and society. At a colourful rally on the steps of Westminster Cathedral, out-going National President Danny Curtin called for more respect for 16-30 year olds, saying that “labels are for jars, not for young people”. A new ‘Stand up for Dignity’ campaign was launched, and he particularly highlighted YCW’s outreach to young people in UK who are coping with financial hardship, unemployment and poverty.
Attending the rally was Abbot Christopher Jamison of Worth Abbey, a YCW resource base. “I have great admiration for the YCW mission for young people which enables the church to stand up for youth” he said. YCW works with small groups, using a ‘See-Judge-Act’ process, helping young people to serve, educate and represent other young people.
Anna Morris, who had travelled to the event from Cardiff, told the audience in the Cathedral piazza: “four years ago I was not involved in anything and never thought I could make a difference in the world, but all that changed when I joined YCW”. She explained that with her YCW group in Cardiff she is now involved in a youth poverty campaign and an anti-violence project in local schools. She was cheered by YCW colleagues and members of the Cardijn Association, along with other supporters such as Pax Christi staff and Columban priests who share office space with YCW at St. Joseph’s, Hendon.
The rally followed a Mass at Westminster Cathedral celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and 12 other priests associated with the work of YCW. Young musicians led a lively liturgy which included a chant from the 2008 World Youth Day in Australia. Hundreds of YCW members wore black tee-shirts carrying a quote from Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, founder of the YCW, saying that, “young people are worth more than all the gold in the world because they are sons and daughters of God”. During the service they renewed their YCW promises, alongside new members from four different regions.
Danny Curtin was warmly thanked by Archbishop Nichols for his dedicated five years as National President and a welcome was given to Emma Stradling, who takes over the role this month after leading her local YCW group in South London. Speaking at the end of Mass, Danny said YCW had given him “the best preparation for life” and it was “a true treasure in the Church in all the 90 years since its foundation”. He added that YCW “gives young people a chance to find a method to live their lives and see how their faith fits into it”. This echoed the words of Archbishop Nichols who reflected that, “you young people have an important part to play in exploring and sharing faith” and he thanked those present “for all you do in this regard”.
Information about YCW can be found at: www.ycwimpact.com.
This includes information about the ‘why bother?’ campaign to engage young people in this week’s General Election, and a leaflet advertising YCW initiatives in parishes.
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