What is Y2K?

Youth 2000, or Y2K, is a movement in the Church that helps young Catholics towards a deeper understanding of their faith. They run several events over the year, which provide a prayerful encounter with Our Lord through Mass, adoration, confession, rosary, worship and talks. 

The worship that you experience there is quite different from that which you may have encountered at your local church. Using songs composed just a few years ago, accompanied by drums, guitarand 'the works,' you will be encouraged to sing joyful songs to Jesus, who is present in the Blessed Sacrament (Holy Communion) the whole time. During the praise and worship sessions, you may see people raising their hands, kneeling, standing, clapping, dancing or simply singing their hearts out - it can be a little unsettling at first, but you learn to focus on Jesus,  not on those around you. 

You are free to take part in as much of the event as you like, but if you want to sit silently during these periods then that is great, too! Another key feature of Y2K is that there is 24-hour adoration, so you can get up at 4:36am to go and pray before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; this is a fine way to pray, as you’d only be sleeping otherwise and you don’t seem to miss the time. The other prime benefit of these events is the variety of excellent speakers, who, by their encouragement, really get through to you. Oh, and you’ll also see monks and nuns there; you could, perhaps, ask a Franciscan friar to explain why he has a shaved head and yet a full beard!

What does it feel like to be there?

When people ask me about the weekend I spent at Walsingham, I honestly struggle to convey the experience. However, it is a supernatural encounter and you do truly meet Jesus.  During the Eucharistic healing service, Our Lord is brought to each person, and when reaching out to the humeral veil (inspired by the story of the woman who suffered from haemorrhages; Mark 5: vs 25-34), he/she is invited to pray for spiritual, emotional or physical healing. During this service, year after year, I am literally struck down with emotion and a profound awareness of God's presence. It is a grace abounding occasion; Walsingham 2011 was awesome. I will add that it wasn't full of holier-than-thou weirdos - these were normal people who care about their faith, which was really encouraging to see.

One of the great opportunities presented over the weekend is to be able to go to Confession. It is so easy to fall out of the habit, but youth events such as these can give you the courage to go forward and unload your burdens. There are priests there whom you'll probably never see again, so perhaps you will feel more comfortable about confessing to them. As you'll see hundreds of people avail themselves of the Sacrament over the weekend, you won't feel that you are alone!

After a five-hour drive, the weekend away was well worth it! I would strongly recommend other young people aged 16-35 (under 16s need a guardian) to make the effort and go to this type of Prayer Festival. The next Y2K is at the 'Holy Ghost,' Balham from 29th December - 1st January 2012. What better way to start the New Year?!