Flame 2023 – The UK’s Largest Catholic Youth Conference
A day full of inspiration for young people from across England and Wales, held on Saturday 4th March 2023 at the OVO Arena Wembley.
The theme of Flame 2023 – which is exactly 150 days before World Youth Day in Lisbon – takes the World Youth Day Scripture (“Mary arose and went in haste”) and crystallises it into the theme, “Rise Up!” Rise up after the pandemic, Rise up as young Catholics, Rise up – as Mary did – for the surprising and beautiful adventure that is our Catholic faith.
“Flame 2023 keeps the key inspiration that has guided us since 2010; that is, Flame is an event for every young person, wherever they are starting from, to help them deeply discover and rediscover Jesus Christ as their brother, friend and saviour, full of joy and mercy. It is an event for young people who are well connected to the Church, and for those who think the Church has nothing to say to them. The Flame 2023 theme, “Rise up” evokes both hope and challenge, and we hope the day is full of inspiration for everyone in the Arena, as we Rise Up after the pandemic, Rise Up as a young and vibrant Church, and Rise Up as individuals, to play our part in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Flame is organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation of England and Wales (CYMFed). CYMFed supports the development and direction of youth ministry in England and Wales. Through project work, training and events, CYMFed gives Youth Ministry a voice in the Church and wider society. Find out more at www.cymfed.org.uk “ [The afore mentioned has been extracted from the Flame booklet for Group Leaders].
The Parish of Christ the King Chingford supported some of its young people to visit Flame 2023, courtesy of a generous benefactor who died last year. Here is a first-hand account of the event to share with our parishioners.
As the younger generation of our Church, we recognise the importance of having a strong community that supports us through our spiritual journey. Today, our Youth Group gathered and travelled to Wembley Stadium to attend Flame. The event was remarkable to say the least and everyone who attended was delighted. We were joined by 8,000 other young people from various schools and parishes, and united in prayer and stillness as one large community.
The day started with music by the Faith Hope Project. This was then followed by a short message by Ant and Dec. Dec’s brother was previously a priest who inspired Flame all those years ago and has sadly passed away. This was followed by a short message from Archbishop Tim Costelloe who talked about Mary. Mary was a woman of action and a woman of faith. She was a reflective and thoughtful woman.
Events like Flame 2023 create a sense of belonging. Being part of a community that shares similar beliefs and values is crucial for young people as they navigate their way through life. Flame provided a space where young people could be themselves, share their struggles, and receive encouragement from those who understood what they were going through. It is a place where you can find comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our faith journey.
We were also able to dance and listen to some amazing and inspirational music and testimonies by Guvna B and Kehinde. This was followed by a short talk from Jenny Garson Saaveedra who was from the Columbian Amazon, representing its animals and plants. She delivered a message of suffering. The deforestation (burning wildlife) and lack of preserving human rights such as no access to drinking water and electricity were the reasons of their problems. She works to protect and educate, while never losing faith in God. She is working to contribute and help this world by enlightening and supporting us to be similar agents of change and to rise.
The event helps young people to grow in their faith. By attending and taking part in discussions, and other spiritual activities, we can deepen our understanding of the Word of God and learn how to apply it to our daily lives. Through prayer, worship, and fellowship, we can also develop a stronger relationship with God and find guidance and direction for our lives.
Towards the middle of the programme, we listened to the inspirational words of Cardinal Tagle from the Philippines who emphasised the importance of the experience of St Joseph. He mentioned that we will find a messenger of God, an angel who will spread God’s message of love to you. The Cardinal spoke of his personal experience of his paternal grandfather being his beautiful angel.
The Cardinal called for us to rise and stand for the earth and for the good soil and the good food. He called for us to rise for the children who are struck and smothered by the harsh impacts of poverty, by wars that they are not even able to comprehend. Also, to rise for the hardworking old people that teach and enlighten us that the economy is based on sharing and on gratitude and not greed. We were called upon to open our eyes and ears to angels speaking to us. He led a beautiful prayer that we would love to share with you:
“Please send angels also to us. Speak to us of your beautiful design for humanity and creation. Speak to us of our unique purpose. May we rise. With the surreal power that comes only from humility, gratitude, compassion, justice, and love. With the might wind of your joy spirit may we rise, may we travel, may we spur as your angels to your neighbours to the poor, to the society. In Jesus name. Amen”
As young people, we have a desire to make a positive impact in the world around us. Flame has directed us to serve our community and make a difference in the lives of others. Through volunteer work, mission trips, and other outreach programmes, we can learn the importance of giving back and the joy that comes from serving others.
Towards the end of the event, we spiritually prepared ourselves for Adoration with the assistance of Brendan Thompson and Georgia Clarke who reminded us that we are not the Church of tomorrow but are the Church of today. And that we cannot rise without God and to constantly remind ourselves that God in fact does see us and that He does love us very dearly.
Bishop Nicola led a beautiful spiritual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Through this experience, we learnt to thank God and to remember that this is a moment to draw courage from. During the Adoration, we were simply in God’s grace. Jesus does not look so much at the greatness of our actions nor even at their difficulty but at the love with which we do them with.
In conclusion, church youth groups provide a safe and nurturing environment for young people to come together, grow in their faith, and form meaningful relationships with one another. They also play a vital role in building a strong community and nurturing the faith of young people. By providing a sense of togetherness, which is needed today in society and in the Church. We “Thank God” that we were able to be a part of Flame 2023. And we would like to use this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to making this day a joyful, wonderful, beautiful, amazing, and heartfelt day for us. God Bless you All.