As the on-screen countdown came to an end, Matt Dean and his band took to the stage to kick off the festival with the explosive opening song ‘For in Christ’ complete with pyrotechnics.
Ciaran Losasso (Ignite Team Leader) Sarah Mawe and Alice McCall then introduced the festival and after a few games it was time to welcome professional Christian comedian Tony Vino. Tony involved the crowd with his set including a hilarious re-enactment of The Lion King.
After dinner there was a chance to unwind outside on the basketball court and the climbing frames, or socialise back at the tents before the evening continued in a more reflective mood with gentle worship.
Fr Luke Goymour spoke about restoration of relationships through Christ, telling a parable about a judge who, after imposing a fine, paid it himself for a man in the dock whom he recognised as an old friend.
Fr Luke then brought in the Blessed Sacrament, and Ciaran Losasso led an examination of conscience, walking the young people through the implications of the command to love God and love neighbour, and encouraging the young people to be honest.
“When you get the primary relationship right, everything else pales into insignificance,” he said.
Six priests were available for confession, and when Ciaran gave the signal there was such a response that he had to slow the teenagers down, encouraging some to stay in Adoration while others queued to speak to a priest. The evening continued with chilling out around the fire pit before sleep time (well at least some people slept).
Sunday morning started with praise and worship, before Jess McCall gave a talk about what it means to ‘Stand Up’ with reference to the festival theme ‘Stand Up, I appoint you as a witness’ (Acts 26:16).
Mass followed, celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes, who wanted to stay longer but had to rush off to be in Cardiff later that day. The afternoon was given over to workshops including Model Aeroplane Building and Flying with Fr Luke, to Discerning Your Vocation with Fr Gladson (and everything in between).
Then it was time for the traditional barbecue with an open mic invitation for anyone to entertain the crowd.
In the evening Fr Gladson talked on ‘I appoint you as witnesses’ before blessing people personally with the Blessed Sacrament and directing the ministry team to pray with them. Many people were visibly moved.
The Sunday evening ended with a Disco Finale run by Hamish MacQueen (Director of Youth Service) taking time out from overseeing the festival to be his alter ego ‘DJ Hammy’.
Overall there were 170 people at the festival, many of whom then took part in a four-mile pilgrimage walk to Walsingham on the Monday morning to conclude the weekend, which one young person described as ‘one of the best weekends of my life’.
Hamish said: “It was so encouraging to have such a good number. Amidst all the fun, to see young people come closer to Jesus, and know more of His immeasurable love was amazing. It’s what it’s all about.”
Special thanks to the behind-the-scenes team who help run the festival with catering, logistics, security and technical support especially Daniel Anderson, Megan Copeland, Joe Perna, Sr Jude, George Cameron-Laker and Rebecca & Steve Bretherton.
Pictured above is Adoration on the Saturday evening of the festival. You can see a Flickr gallery of the festival by clicking on the link or the picture below.