On Saturday 2nd March 2019 approximately 9,000 young Catholics converged on Wembley’s SSE Arena for the annual ‘Flame’ youth event, the theme of which this year was ‘Significance’.
We live in a world where it’s easy to feel constrained to measure self-esteem in Twitter and Instagram “likes”, responses to Facebook status updates, and Snapchat conversations. Flame 2019 aimed at offering a fresh depth of perspective for young people, centred in their creation in the image and likeness of God.
There were a wide range of speakers at Flame, including Archbishop Eamonn Martin, Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community and American Pastor Robert Madu. Other speakers and guests included Emma Borquaye, co-founder of the blog “Girl got Faith”, rapper Guvna B and Rise Theatre. Each focused on celebrating the belief that every person’s life is unique and special to God.
The Passionists, represented by Martin Newell CP and Paschal Somers, were one of a number of groups (others included CAFOD, HCPT, Pax Christi, Columbans) who led creative activities during the lunch break. The Passionist activity was inspired by the work of artist Sean Hawkey to whom we are grateful for permission to use his photo’s.
The activity attempted to make visible to the young people the words of St. Paul of the Cross, ‘The name of Jesus is written on the forehead of the poor’. It involved a display of pictures of Honduran people who all share the name ‘Jesus’ and an invitation to consider who Jesus is for you and where Jesus might be present in today’s world. Those taking part then had the opportunity to write a response to this on a ‘grafitti wall’.
A particularly poignant response came from a young person who described Jesus as, ‘A father I never had.’ Other faith-filled and inspiring comments identified Jesus with friends and as being a light in a darkened world. The stall was overwhelmed at times with those who were curious to find out what the activity was all about and to make their own unique and significant mark on the ‘graffiti wall’.
It was a joy to be at the event, to make new connections and to explore across generations the continued power and relevance of Jesus Christ and his Passion.
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