When every new team arrives at Castlerigg in the middle of August, we’re all at different stages of life. Some of us are fresh out of sixth form, and have little experience of the workplace, while others have been out of university for a year and are familiar with work routines and practices such as safeguarding. We are also all at different stages of our faith journey, with some of us not even being Catholic. With that in mind, the two and half weeks of training we go through as a team are designed to bring us rapidly up to speed with all things Castlerigg and youth ministry; as well as getting to know the people we’re going to be spending the next year of our lives with!
After we said farewell to our families on moving-in day, there were a fair few moments of uncertainty and doubt, but the leadership team were always on hand to keep us busy, getting to know each other and our new home. One of our first ‘team-building’ tasks was taking us out rowing on Derwentwater, which some of us took to more easily than others… But it did the trick of bringing us together as a team, and for fun. Phelim’s vast collection of board games has similarly kept us busy in the evenings.
Having only been here for two weeks, we all agree that it feels as though we have known each other for much longer. Theresa particularly notes how quickly she became comfortable with her new housemates, which helped her to be more confident and engage in all we were doing as a team. Being in such a close environment has meant that we have quickly learned to rely on each other, be it with washing up after meals or looking out for each other when we’re out on walks.
What’s more, we’ve had a selection of the Diocese’s best and brightest coming to give us talks and presentations on various topics. These ranged from safeguarding and professional standards to the sacraments and how to read the Bible in a prayerful way. They were all very engaging and thought-provoking, Rachael particularly enjoyed Fr Chris Loughran’s talk on the importance of having a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. For each of us, it is our personal relationship with Christ that has drawn us here to Castlerigg, and it is this that we are so excited to share with young people (you!) this year.
We’ve also had two excursions out of Castlerigg, to Walsingham for Youth 2000 (See our other blog!) and also last weekend on The Big Walk. Most of us were experiencing these things for the first time and so they continued to bring us closer together. The boys in particular were united in solidarity against Patrick’s snoring in the boys’ tent…
So, in all, training has been a busy but positive time for us. Full of new experiences, faces and responsibilities. We have already grown as individuals and as a team in the last few weeks, and with our first school retreat just days away we are all eager to get started. It was great to welcome Bishop Paul this weekend, both for the Big Walk but also to have him formally commission us as gap year volunteers. At Mass, he prayed ‘May the Lord, who has begun this good work in you, bring it to fulfilment’. This is our prayer too!