Over 1,000 young Catholics from across the island of Ireland came together in the Cistercian College, Roscrea at the weekend – not to study – but to celebrate their faith at the annual Youth 2000 Summer Festival.
Youth 2000 is a Catholic youth organisation that organises lively faith festivals, retreats, prayer groups and other events for young people aged 16-35 across the island of Ireland. It began as one young English man’s response to Pope John Paul II’s call at World Youth Day in 1989 for young people to evangelise young people and it has spread to more than 25 countries all over the world, coming to Ireland in 1993.
Attending the event in Co. Tipperary, Fr Chris Hayden, from the Diocese of Ferns, said: “I’m here because I want to see what Youth 2000 is like, I want to become more familiar with it, and maybe catch some of the enthusiasm.”
The spiritual initiative was established to draw young people back to Christ and the Church, especially in the Eucharist, and so many of the events are orientated towards this aim including adoration, Rosary recitals and personal testimonies.
The organisation carries out its mission in three ways:devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Our Lady particularly through the Rosary, and fidelity to the teaching of the Church, including a deep love for Sacred Scripture.
Fr Shane Sullivan from the Archdiocese of Tuam provided an insightful and helpful talk about the true meaning of the Eucharist, and also described the importance of various parts of the Mass. His energy and zeal were a complimentary accompaniment to the profundity of his words.
“The second half of the Mass is going to blow your mind,” he said. “The second half is Calvary. Jesus becomes truly present – we become present at Calvary.”
Retreats like this allow young people the opportunity to develop a relationship with Christ in a richer and more spiritual away, or perhaps even encounter him for the first time, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In his homily at the Mass on Friday – which was offered for the victims and families of the attacks in Barcelona - Bishop Fintan Monahan of the Diocese of Killaloe praised the work that Youth 2000 carries out. His homily addressed the value of silence, and how this can help one come closer to God. In the tiny moments of “nothing”, something divine can occur.
Alongside these elements of devotion, participants attended workshops, danced and sang, and conversed about what their faith means to them.
“I thought faith in Ireland was dead,” said Brian O’Driscoll, Secretary of Youth 2000, “but at Youth 2000 you realise you’re not alone and by meeting other young people and walking with them it’s special and alive.”