Over New Year's, Youth 2000 held their annual conference to see in 2020, around the theme of ‘Behold, I am making all things New’ (Revelation 21:5). Taking place for the first time at our diocesan parish of Mary Immaculate and St Gregory’s in High Barnet, the retreat brought around 200 young people together, as well as many priests and religious, for three days of prayer and praise. As a residential retreat, all those staying were catered for and looked after by parishioners and the parish priest, Fr John Mckenna; coming together during the day for talks and Mass.
Youth 2000 retreats are built around unpacking the teaching of the Church, the Eucharist and the Rosary for young people and equipping them to be missionary disciples. This retreat allowed individuals to pray deeply, build fellowship with one another in their ‘Connect Groups’, and hear talks about a wide variety of topics, including Reconciliation and Healing, Praying with the word and Call to Mission.
The first day culminated with a Eucharistic healing service, and the second a praise party to see in the new year. Finally, the retreat was closed with Mass celebrated by Bishop John Sherrington who, in his homily, spoke about how in the Gospel, the shepherds at the manger let the gaze of the Christ Child fall on them, and through his incarnation he destines us for eternal glory. In a similar way, as it was the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, the face of Christ fell on Mary at different times in her life, always journeying with Jesus.
Bishop John discussed the different ways Mary is described, quoting Evangelii Gaudium, which ends with the prayer titling Mary as Star of Evangelisation. In her characterisation as a star, which ‘reveals light from afar; Mary reflects the light of Christ’. Her other titles, especially from the Litany of Loreto, can also serve to draw us closer to Jesus. As Seat of Wisdom, ‘Jesus sits on her lap, she is the seat; she learns from him and is herself a seat of wisdom’. As Mirror of Justice, she ‘reflects the justice of Christ and proclaims this in the Magnificat.’ As Tower of Ivory, with the tower representing strength and the ivory representing purity, she can inspire us in ‘our own growth in purity and chastity; becoming pure in heart’. In Mary, we see the greatest example of meeting the challenge of reflecting Christ into the world.
To find out more about the work, mission and events of Youth 2000, go to www.youth2000.org