And there's no going back.
Something extraordinary is happening in England. There’s movement, there’s change, there’s excitement, and there’s one word on everyone’s lips: Invocation.
In its third year running, the crowning event of the year took place this weekend at Oscott Seminary, Birmingham, drawing Catholics of all shapes and sizes to its doors. Bigger than ever before, it’s having a revolutionary effect on British Catholic culture.
Invocation has one major goal in mind: to help young people “hear, recognise, discern, and respond to the call of Christ in their lives.”
Are you thinking: ‘same old, same old?’
Invocation reaches its climax in this yearly festival, but is busy working away throughout the year on all kinds of initiatives which are transforming the lives not only of young Catholics throughout the UK, but also anyone who comes into contact with it, including priests, educators, families and youth leaders.
The organisation’s creator and Executive director Chris Smith speaks to Aleteia about the revolutionary organisation and the secret to its success.
“Invocation grew from the work that many of us were doing in vocations ministry in the diocese [Birmingham]” said Smith. “We were working in our parishes, schools, families, and we noticed that there were gaps that needed filling. There were things they needed support with, in building and developing this culture of vocation. So we started just off the cuff, addressing some of those needs.
“We began by helping the education departments with small initiatives and events which very quickly escalated into a full organisation.
“Ultimately what we do is we try to help young people everywhere to hear, recognise, discern and then respond to the call of Christ in their lives. To enable this, we work with many different agencies in and linked to the Church, to support them in providing that outstanding practice, providing the right tools and the best opportunities within the right environments, and to find new, intelligent and inspirational ways of achieving this goal for those young people.
Smith explained that this basically involves – at the first level – providing the proper support and formation for youth leaders, educators, spiritual guides and parish priests, so that they in turn can – at the second level – provide the necessary support for these young people, creating the proper environment for attending to the call of Christ.
A common thread
This is why the four-day festival this weekend was not limited to one bracket of people, but had a day of formation for priests, a day for educators, and then two days dedicated to the youth. They all brought sleeping bags and prayer journals and had an intense time of prayer, celebration, reconciliation and formation.
The secret to Innovation’s success is one fundamental element; one common thread that weaves the whole of their work together: Christ.
A personal meeting with Christ is their foundation and focus. “Adoration and confession was available throughout the festival,” said Smith, “and every session, from clergy, to teachers, to youth, is geared and directed towards this concrete, personal encounter with Christ.”
He continued: “Cardinal Hume said, if we are all unique and if we are all made in the image and likeness of Christ, then each person we meet can reveal to us something of Christ that nobody else can.”
Indeed, one of the young participants described Invocation as a “safe harbour” where they could just “be themselves and relax, with no pressure, and encounter Christ, and be formed and inspired by the people” around them.
Christ in the classroom