Flame 2019 – #Significance

Tuesday 8th January 2019

At 2.30am on Saturday 2nd March 2019 coaches full of young people will close their doors, rev their engines, and set off down the M6 from the northern part of Lancaster Diocese; by 4.00am coaches will be heading South from Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, East from Bristol and Wales, and North East from Cornwall – along with planes from Jersey, Ireland and even Norway, and tube trains from across London – all travelling to the same destination, carrying thousands of young people to The SSE Arena, Wembley, for the fourth Flame Congress, entitled “Significance.”

As the young people arrive, the Arena will be alive with music and light, in a warm-up provided by Candice McKenzie, a Eurovision judge, a DJ at the Ministry of Sound, and a presenter on Premier Gospel; the Arena will gradually fill with as many as ten thousand young people from all over the country, with all the energy, joy and excitement that young people bring to such a space.

There is something both powerful and unique about being Church in a space more usually associated with “The X Factor” and “Britain’s Got Talent.” This vibrant and extraordinary expression of Church has its roots in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England in 2010. He challenged the young people of England and Wales to “Be Saints.” He asked them to look deeply at their lives and to consider, “What will your legacy be?”

The Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) was responsible for organising the gathering of young people at Westminster Cathedral and in front of the stage at Hyde Park; those moments showed us the potential for such gatherings, and the energy from the Papal Visit carried forward into Flame 2012, then 2015 and 2017.

What can the young people – and the teachers, youth leaders, catechists, priests and Bishops accompanying them – expect from Flame2019? We are delighted to have secured a truly excellent line-up of speakers and presenters. GuvnaB is a well known rap artist who sings and speaks about his Christian faith, and he will be on stage with his wife, Emma, who runs a website “Girl got faith” where she helps teenagers, especially around struggles with self-image. They will speak individually and together, and it will undoubtedly resonate with the hearts of all who listen, since both GuvnaB and Emma will be speaking from lived experience accompanying those who are the age of most of the Flame audience. They will be joined on stage by Robert Madu, who is flying in from Texas, USA. Robert is a fast paced, funny, warm and engaging speaker, deeply rooted in Christian faith, and with wonderful stories and images that make points which are both challenging and inspiring. Having listened to him, he is not someone you forget in a hurry! He fills Arenas across America, and it is wonderful to be able to bring him to England.

Music at Flame2019 comes from Tim Hughes, author of “Here I am to worship” and many, many more praise and worship songs that will be familiar to those in the Arena – or which they will quickly be able to pick up. Tim animates large gatherings and festivals in the UK and abroad throughout the year. The music has always been a magnificent feature of Flame – we hope to send people back to their parishes humming some new tunes, and we know that music introduced at Flame is being sung in school and parish Masses across the country. It is joyful, uplifting, and easy for a congregation to learn.

We are very hopeful that Jean Vanier will be able to record an interview for us; he is too ill to be with us at Flame, but there are a number of ways in which we will be sharing his great wisdom of life, and superb accompaniment of those in the L’Arche communities.

Fresh from the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment is Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. He will share with the Arena his impressions of the Synod, and what it meant for him to be a part of it.

All of the input is centred around the theme “Significance.” The Chair of CYMFed, Fr Dermott Donnelly, describes why this theme has been chosen: “Today, young people often feel constrained to measure self-esteem and self-worth simply by Instagram ‘likes’, responses to Facebook status updates and Snapchat conversations. We aim to explore, for just a few hours, the deep Catholic Truth of our being; that we are ‘God’s work of art’ (Eph 2:10) and we can only ever really understand ourselves in relationship with Him.  We hope that Flame 2019 will offer our young people a fresh perspective of their true significance, as ‘beloved children of God’ (qv Matt 3:17), in a personal relationship with God the Father.”

Leading into Adoration, RISE Theatre will present the drama first offered at Adoremus, “Jesus is here” and a 120 strong youth Gospel choir, drawn from seven Catholic schools, will begin the closing liturgy.

Together with virtually all the Bishops of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols will conclude the day by leading us in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – and previous Flame Congresses have been characterised by deep stillness and prayer in these moments of Adoration – as well as offering a concluding homily. We are very grateful for the Cardinal’s support of Flame from the very beginning, back in 2012.

Many groups and Dioceses help to put Flame together, under the banner of CYMFed, and lunchtime will be full of interactive activities led by groups as diverse as the Salesians, Cafod, the Columbans and HCPT.

Nearly 6,000 tickets have already been sold; for your school, youth group or parish Confirmation group to be part of this amazing day, simply go to www.cymfed.org.uk/flame2019 for full details, or contact your local Diocesan Youth Coordinator Lorraine Leonard – lorraine.leonard@dioceseofsalford.org.uk 

Fr Dominic Howarth (Chair of the CYMFed Flame Congress organising team)

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