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CYMFed Youth Ministry Congress – The Sage, Gateshead... 

Paul Murphy writes...

"I was delighted to recently attend and represent Redemptorist Youth Ministry at The CYMFed Congress which was held this year at The Sage in Gateshead (Newcastle Upon Tyne) on 16 March 2013. CYMFed is the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation, and as an organisation it seeks to help shape and support Catholic Youth Ministry in England and Wales.

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This wonderful and uplifting event was attended by over 600 people, including Youth Ministry teams, school chaplains, parish catechists and young people. They came from all parts of UK, and it was a great day for those involved in Youth Ministry to come together, to meet one another and share our experiences, challenges, ideas and resources.

Given that we met during the Year of Faith, the Congress was entitled ‘The Faith Story’, and the Congress gave us all an opportunity to reflect on our own journey of faith, and to listen to others speak of the impact that their faith has had on their lives.

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The Congress was privileged to have 2 keynote speakers who helped inspire us all by their words and experiences.

In the morning session, Bishop Luc van Looy (Bishop of Gent, Belgium), who belongs to the Salesian order, spoke with passion about the need for us as Youth Ministers to spend more time reading the Scriptures, to enable us to have the words we need to share our faith stories with young people.

Bishop Luc described how ‘young people’ have a thirst for God and for developing their faith, and that when invited and when given opportunities for spiritual development, they respond positively and prayerfully. He stressed that it is simply not enough for us as a Church to love our young people, but that they have to know they are loved. Like Pope Francis, he emphasised the need to build ‘communities of faith’, so that parishes grow together spiritually and socially.

We then stopped for lunch, which was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow youth ministers and catechists, and to share our experiences together. There were many stalls in the venue, featuring many different religious organisations and groups involved in youth ministry. Our very own Redemptorist Publications were present, and I managed to help (or perhaps hinder) Trish Wilson in her sales at the RP stall. For me as a newly appointed Youth Minister, this was an invaluable part of the day, to establish contacts, share ideas and resources.

In the afternoon we were joined by Christopher Pilkington (Executive Producer of Youth Programming for Endemol), a TV production company responsible for programmes such as ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Million Pound Drop’. Christopher spoke with great energy about his life as a Christian within the media, and the challenges he faces as he attempts to live out his faith in this somewhat faith-less environment. He discussed the power of ‘story’ in the media, and encouraged us all to be strong in our faith.

The day also included uplifting times of prayer, music and personal testimonies from some young people. These were powerful moments and most people left encouraged and inspired by their experience.

At the end of the day I also managed to meet with Fr Dermott Donnelly (Chair of CYMFed) and he has invited me to become a member of CYMFed, which allows me to be the Youth Ministry representative for the Redemptorists at CYMFed meetings. This will enable me to become involved in the planning of Youth Ministry events and resources at a National level, and bring an increased awareness to others of the Redemptorists’ involvement in Youth Ministry in the UK.

I was also privileged on the day to meet with Fr Paul Farrer (MyMission Middlesbrough Youth Ministry Team). We agreed to meet a few days later in Middlesbrough and he we had a great discussion about Youth Ministry. He has invited me to spend some time with his Youth Ministry Team in May, to look at the work they carry out in schools. 

Fr Paul Farrer and the MyMission Team have been very active in producing a podcast about Catholic Youth Ministry called ‘YouCast’. During my visit, Fr Paul interviewed me for his latest podcast episode. We talked about my new role, my experiences of the CYMFed Congress and other issues related to faith.

You can listen to my interview (Episode 6) by downloading the podcast from iTunes. You can listen to them all at: http://mymission.org.uk/youcast 

For more information on CYMFed as an organisation visit: www.cymfed.org.uk 

 

Paul Murphy

Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry