An early start was made to the weekend by over a dozen young people from our churches, as we headed up to Wembley to join a youthful crowd of 8,000 from all over the country – the northerners even hired a train for the event!

We had been preparing for ‘Flame’ for many months, yet, in truth, the exact nature of the day was not really known by us until it got started. As Father Andrej observed, it was a brilliantly designed programme, starting gently, but building up an atmosphere that led into the period of Eucharistic adoration. In this manner, the various elements of the event came together towards the end of the day.

Of course, coming together as individuals within the Church we each had many different highlights to take from this event. Joe said that he found it very inspiring to hear loads of people speak about being Catholic, which was echoed in Callum’s response where he reflects on the ‘real sense of unity’ experienced to see so many Catholics together.

It can seem an utterly unattractive prospect to give up a day’s pay or the football game or whatever else one may plan on a sunny Saturday; perhaps, like Steve, you don’t think you could quite stomach 6 hours of ‘church.’ However, he found the day was much better than he expected as it was broken up with some lighter elements; for him, a highlight was ‘the glee performance’. This was a mishmash of worship songs with ‘don’t stop believing’ as a background – take a listen to the lead singers practicing below! Our MCs, Pascal and David, introduced us to various Olympians and Paralympians; which many of us found very interesting. Names such as Jason Gardner, Stef Reid, Debbie Flood, Bridget Parker and Sr Catherine Holum shared their experiences of competing in sports, and how their faith in God inspires them to achieve success. Pascal was privileged to handle a genuine Olympic medal! The themes of the day reflect the sporting values of excellence, respect and friendship. The Mizen family shared their amazing story giving a message encouraging us to bring about a sense of renewal in our communities through a touching recount of faith which prompted many in the group to consider how they might respond in that tragic situation.

It was a great witness to see people celebrating the faith, as many will share Katie’s realization, “Wow, I’m not the only one”. Of course, there was another dimension to the day, beyond the speakers and the music and the prayer – there was the church, the people gathered together. Over lunch, while I met up with a couple of friends from past retreats, not a negligible number opted to walk through an outdoor fountain, which Kamila assures us was ‘fun’, alas she failed to persuade anyone to join her. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of the young, the day was inspiring for people of all ages., As Luisiella remarked, ‘the Holy Spirit is still at work’! A big THANK YOU to Margaret Want for the ‘very, very rewarding’ and ‘absolutely fabulous day’ from all present.


Flame Stage