absence of young people in our churches and we all struggle desperately to know how to answer this situation in a pragmatic way. I would like to share with you a sign of great hope and encouragement with regard to how well this problem is being addressed by one group of people, namely Youth 2000.
Recently, on two separate occasions, I have had the joy and privilege to participate in retreats run by the Youth 2000 movement. The first of these took place over the new year at Maryvale, near Guildford, in Surrey. Coming from various parts of the country, over 80 young people spent four days together in a deeply Spirit filledatmosphere of Marian prayer and Eucharistic centred devotion. Including myself there were seven priests who had been invited to share in the work of giving the talks, presiding at the Eucharist and preaching the homilies. Each day also included two holy hours and small group sharmgs; and every night there was perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with many spending an hour or more in adoration during normal sleeping time. As comes naturally with young people, there was much enthusiastic singing throughout the retreat, greatly aided by high quality musical accompaniment.
By the end of the retreat everyone was aglow with the Holy Spirit and feeling a deep bond of fellowship with everyone else. The whole experience was a deeply Eucharistic one.
The second retreat I experienced was a regional one, one of a monthly afternoon series, in Kensington. Repeating the Marian-Eucharist emphasis it consisted of a holy hour, a talk and celebration of the Eucharist (Saturday vigil). Again it was a great occasion of joyful faith-sharing fellowship for all.
As a priest I found both these Youth 2000 experiences extremely encouraging and uplifting. I was greatly impressed with the young people's depth of faith which manifested itself through their wonderfully reverential devotion towards the Eucharist Jesus, through their great hunger to hear and understand more about the word of God in the Scriptures, through their love for Our Lady and their firm belief in her maternal and intercessionary help, and through their care and concern for one another and for the work of the Church in general.
I am told that Youth 200) has really taken off in the USA, but here in Britain its progress is somewhat slower. Here's a movement that deserves our very best encouragement and support. It is up to all of us in the Church to help this sign of hope, which Youth 2000 is, to become a more and more fully realized ecclesial reality, that is, the return of young people to the heart of the Church through their full blooded participation in the Great Eucharistic Assembly and by their sharing in the mission of Christ that flows from it..
Rev Stephen lhoght S. MM. Cricklez000d, London