250 youth gather from around Diocese for Ignite Festival

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250 youth gather from around Diocese for Ignite Festival

This year’s Ignite Festival took place from May 4 to May 6 at St Benedict’s High School, Bury St Edmunds, gathering around 250 young people from around the Diocese, one of the largest attendances ever. This was the first time it had been hosted in Bury St Edmunds, with previous festivals being hosted in Swaffham for the past few years.

The festival began on Saturday with the Welcome Session which included some music from the Sibyl Collective, a group of musicians in the diocese, and a welcome by Hamish MacQueen, Director of Diocesan Youth Service. This was followed by some comedy by Andy Kind, a preacher and award-winning comedian. Andy said: “I’m here at Ignite for the first time in a decade. But, delighted to be here and looking forward to meeting and speaking to the young people and doing a few jokes.”

After the Welcome Session, attendees had dinner and some group time, followed by the Late-Night Gig and Talk, focusing on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, led by Fr Luke Goymour, with help from Ignite Team members Adam Dodd and Alex Thanickal. Speaking about this and his time at Ignite, Bishop Peter Collins said: “It’s a delight to be here, and it’s a delight that we have so many young people gathered here for the Ignite Festival and it’s lovely to be able to meet as many of them as possible.

“After we had our supper, we celebrated a preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So, we had an opportunity for reflection and shared testimony on that, and then the actual celebration.

“A number of our priests are with me here, and it’s always a privilege to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, especially with young people, who perhaps find it an obstacle in the world they inhabit and the age that they are, it’s a particular challenge for them.

“It’s a delight to see them responding to the promptings of grace and seeing them opening their hearts to Christ is a wonder and a glory to behold. To facilitate that through one’s priesthood is always a great privilege and a great joy.” After the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there was the opportunity for some free time. The evening ended with a short talk and night prayer led by Sr Catherine Williams from the Community of Our lady of Walsingham.

On Sunday, the first presentation was by professional mime artist Steve Murray, who spoke very movingly about self-worth. Then, the festival was honoured to welcome Inna, a young lady who had fled Ukraine when she woke up to hear bombs falling. Now, living in London, Inna spoke about how her faith had helped her through the darkest of times.

Holy Mass was celebrated by Bishop Peter, followed by Q&A with the Bishop and workshops and activities all afternoon. The evening talk was given by Alex from the Ignite Team, who spoke very powerfully about his life. Brought up Catholic, Alex had turned to a life of crime. It caught up with him when he was stabbed and couldn’t walk for several months, which led him to start reflecting on his life. His mum booked him a place on World Youth Day, which he reluctantly went to, where during that pilgrimage he went to confession and recommitted his life to Christ. Alex then challenged everyone present to recommit their lives to Christ, and to do that every day. They were given the opportunity to do so as Fr Luke walked around with the Blessed Sacrament, praying for people individually. Many young people found this moment incredibly powerful.

One of the young people attending said: “Coming here really changed my life… When I came here I didn’t have that much faith in God, but now the two days here has given me faith and hope.”

After a celebration Disco on the Sunday evening, the festival concluded, with attendees departing the next morning. The feedback for this year’s festival has been amazing, with many of the young attendees saying it has brought them closer to God. Bishop Peter spoke about the importance of events like Ignite: “It’s so good to be able to accompany these young people in their faith. We all play a part in accompanying one another in that great journey of faith, and the deepening of that faith. The danger of feeling isolated in our faith is real. That’s why these festivals for our young people are so important.”

Pictured above are some of the young people in attendance.

See below for the full photo gallery.

Ignite Festival, St Benedict's High School, Bury St Edmunds, May 2024