Youth 2000 has been gathering and forming the Church's future for 30 years
The biggest gathering of young Catholics in the United Kingdom marked its 30th anniversary last weekend. Youth 2000 seeks to draw young people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through a four-day prayer festival, where young people are introduced to some essentials of the Catholic faith: Mass, Eucharistic adoration, Confession, Scripture, and devotion to Our Lady.
“Our primary audience is from 18 to 25 years olds. Our hope is that no matter where they come from in their faith, they will have an encounter with Christ. The field of Walsingham, friendship, the Eucharist, praise and worship, that’s the secret,” according to the current CEO of the festival, Tom Ward.
“One of the big fruits of Youth 2000 has been the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious and married life. I always see someone around 21 years old, entering the field [of the shrine], seeing joy-filled people, chatting and hanging out, but not in a secular sense. There is no alcohol, drugs, etc, on site that you would expect from another festival. I see these young people feeling very welcomed and able to enter a way of life that maybe they don’t experience at home.”
Youth 2000 is a true festival, complete with camping. The real difference is that these young people are gathered to worship, not to revel, and that of course, makes all the difference.
As well, this is a festival for young people and delivered by young people, but with Jesus ever present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Onlookers are moved by the youths’ openness, vibrancy, and deep belief in Jesus.
Many of these youths have been brought to the faith through previous Youth 2000 festivals.
That is the case for Mary and Anna, who are 16 and 17 years old. Mary has been part of the youth festival since she was a tiny girl.
“Growing up it was the only place where I encountered so many young people, so filled with joy. It was such a big inspiration to me; it encouraged me in my faith and it showed me that I wasn’t the only person. When I went back to school I felt encouraged. And I always felt Youth 2000 is a place where you can really be open. I love Youth 2000 and it’s the best part of my year. On the last night, they were doing Holy Spirit Night. Nothing was happening. And then, some people came to pray over me. It was so, so beautiful. It ignited my faith and it is the moment I decided that this faith is my own.”
This year was Anna’s sixth festival. “I have always believed in the Catholic faith, but it used to be something I did with my family. But at Youth 2000, especially during the Adoration, every year I decide that this will be my faith,” she explained. “To live their faith in this culture, I think youth need fellowship and formation. Definitely, Youth 2000 offers that.”
Youth 2000 is raising up a culture of Christ-centered young people who embrace the life of the Church and Her calling to go out into the world.
If you would like to pray for Youth 2000 and other young people throughout this year who are helping to evangelize our culture and embrace the life of the Church, you can follow them, pray for the young generation with them, and be inspired by their heart for the Lord through this online community of prayer ‘Awakening dignity in young people.’