10,000 Reasons for young Catholics at Wembley Arena

Participants gather at Wembley for Flame 2015. Westminster Youth Service
Participants gather at Wembley for Flame 2015. Westminster Youth Service

The Jesuits in Britain will joining other Catholic youth organisations and up to 10,000 young people when they gather at Wembley SSE Arena on Saturday for Flame 2017. Encouraged by the success of the Flame events in 2012 and 2015, Flame has now become an important event in the calendar of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Flame 2017 is organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) and the organisers are hoping that participants in Flame 2017 will fill the Arena, which holds 10,000 people, hence this year’s title: ‘10,000 Reasons To Hope’. 10,000 Reasons is also the title of a song by Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Matt Redman who will be leading the music at Flame 2017.

“It is a unique opportunity for young Catholics to experience a joyful and missionary Church,” says Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster who will be leading the liturgies and addressing the participants at Flame 2017. “In that setting, they experience Christ’s presence through times of prayerful worship and inspiring speakers, as well as through music and much true enthusiasm.”

Finding God in all thingsCardinal Charles Bo at Stonyhurst College, May 2016

Representing the Jesuits in Britain at Flame 2017 will be several school parties. Forty students from Wimbledon College and a further ten young parishioners from Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, will be attending; and joining the group of 50 pupils from Stonyhurst College will be 20 from their affiliated school, Cardinal Griffin. Several Jesuits will be among the clergy: Vocations Director, Fr Matthew Power SJ, Fr Simon Bishop SJ, the province’s Director of Spirituality, and Fr David Stewart SJ of the Ignatian Spirituality Outreach Ministry and National Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. He is also on the National Executive Committee of CYMFed. The Jesuits in Britain have produced back-packs and wristbands for those attending Flame 2017 with the slogan Finding God In All Things.

Keynote speakers at Flame 2017 will include Sarah Teather, the Director of JRS UK, and Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, who became Burma/Myanmar’s first ever Cardinal in 2015. He has long been one of the most outspoken voices for human rights, religious freedom, inter-religious harmony, peace and justice in the country. Last May, Cardinal Bo visited Stonyhurst College where he talked about the role of the Catholic Church and the struggle for religious freedom in his country.

Worship, music and inspiring speakers at Flame 2015. Westminster Youth ServiceEvery person’s unique gifts

Among the highlights of Flame 2017 this Saturday will be the liturgies. There will be an Opening Liturgy full of dance, movement and time for reflective prayer at the beginning of the day and Closing  Liturgy with Adoration and simple Benediction towards the end of the day. It is expected that many participants will get involved through Social Media (#Flame2017) over the weekend. “We really hope that young people and leaders will use Social Media actively throughout the day,” say the organisers. “From the very beginning, share a group selfie as you are getting onto your coach or train, or from the motorway, or underneath the arch on Olympic Way. Use #Flame2017 and begin a dialogue with others who are travelling!”

“We know that our ministry with young people helps us to see their God-given gifts and talents,” says Cardinal Nichols. “So the theme both encourages us to see the unique gifts of every person, and for everyone to go forth from the Arena at the end of the day with renewed faith, fresh ‘reasons’ to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.”

The Jesuits in Britain are members of CYMFed, which is open to every Catholic diocese across England and Wales, and to those organisations, movements and religious orders which have a specific purpose to work with young people on a national level.