Walsingham Youth 2000

After hearing so many rave reviews about Youth 2000 over the past couple of years on my pilgrimages to Lourdes, my interest had been sparked but I had never actually had the opportunity to attend any of their main retreats due to various reasons. However, after World Youth Day this summer, Youth 2000 was mentioned so frequently that I felt I was really missing out on something and so decided to join the diocesan group and see what it was all about. And I was not disappointed!

The retreat lasts over the long August bank holiday weekend and takes place at Walsingham - Our Lady's home in England. While Youth 2000 run many retreats throughout the country during the year, this is the main event and so there were people there from all ends of the UK – from Glasgow to London and everywhere in between!!

I'll admit - I was pretty nervous about going at first because I wasn't sure how I felt about camping for three nights and secondly, I had absolutely no idea what to expect!! However, as soon as I got on the minibus with the lovely Lancaster group (most of whom I've known for several years now) I just became so excited to get to Walsingham!

I had the most incredible weekend with the loveliest people - not only from the diocesan group but also all the new people I met from across the UK. I thought I'd share some of my highlights of the retreat:

Constant Adoration

One of the things which makes Youth 2000 retreats unique is that there is constant Adoration, except from when Mass is occurring. I absolutely loved this because you could just pop into the main tent whenever you wanted a chat with God - whether it was first thing in the morning or even in the middle of the night. I found this a great way to deepen my relationship with God and having Him there in the Blessed Sacrament really helped my prayer to be much more focused during this time.

The Healing Service

When I first heard that there would be a healing service, I was intrigued but had no idea what this would consist of! However, this night was the turning point in the retreat and made me feel closer to God than I ever had before. The whole evening is really based upon the Gospel passage (Mark 25) where the woman suffering from a haemorrhage believes that if she could just touch the cloak of Jesus, she would be healed. There is a lot of praise and worship as the Deacon brings Jesus in the monstrance to each individual and as the Blessed Sacrament is in front of you, you are able to touch the cloak around the Deacon and believe that God would heal, as the woman in Mark’s Gospel did. I found this the most incredibly moving spiritual experience and it was truly amazing to be so close to God. After that evening, I felt like my faith had been renewed and I felt filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Music

Again, I'd heard nothing but amazing things about the music at Youth 2000 events and I was still blown away. From the lively worship songs during Mass to the peaceful and seemingly spontaneous acoustic songs after the healing service, the music ministry team did the most amazing job of transforming the atmosphere, and bringing us all closer to God through their music. Since I've been back I've been trying to find all the music they played on Spotify but the original tracks don't compare to their versions - I can't even describe how amazing they were!!

Friends New and Old

As with all the retreats and pilgrimages I've been on, the atmosphere at these events makes it so easy to build on existing friendships and to make new ones as well. I met so many lovely people during the weekend and I really enjoyed being able to chat with people without having any distractions (in particular, without my mobile phone - we had no phone signal from Thursday afternoon until Sunday evening which was really refreshing and something I actually enjoyed). One of the best things about the group I was with is that it was made up of people who I have known for several years from other Diocesan events. However, I had never really had the opportunity to properly get to know them before. So being out of our comfort zones together was a really great bonding experience and I enjoyed getting to know everyone better, along with making many new friends.

So overall, it was the most incredible experience and I can't recommend it enough! The retreat has really inspired me to get more involved with Youth 2000 and attend some of the other retreats they put on during the year - as well as next year's retreat in Walsingham I hope!!

Anna Jordan - 18, Preston