Fun, facts and faith at Ignite Youth Festival

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Fun, facts and faith at Ignite Youth Festival

Over 200 young people took part in this year’s Ignite Youth Festival at the Sacred Heart Primary School in Swaffham – the largest attendance for ten years.

Acclaimed musician Matt Dean, supported by Fr Peter Wygnanski (Priest Administrator of Sheringham Parish), Sophie Periera (Ignite Team member) and Benjy Travasso  (one of the young people going to World Youth Day), kicked off the festival with a time of praise and worship music. Then Louisa Poole and Elliott Cannon from the Ignite Team, acting as MCs, introduced professional comic magician Tom Elliott. He produced a lively display, entertaining participants with strange decks of cards, a disappearing ring and a balloon-swallowing session. He also shared his testimony of how he came to faith after reading ‘The Purpose-driven Life’ by Rick Warren.

Football and basketball on the playground provided a break before supper, and then the young people came back to hear Pippa Baker from the One Hope Project give a talk, based on her own story of moving from a successful career in advertising to the life of an itinerant Catholic evangelist living by faith. She spoke movingly of how, just the night before, she had a led a lapsed Catholic from Ireland back towards faith as she prayed for him in a crowded Sheffield bar.

This was followed by a time of Adoration and Confession introduced by Fr Luke Goymour (Chaplain to the Youth Service). Ciaran Losasso, lgnite Team Leader, led an examination of conscience and most of the teenagers responded by joining the queues for confession with the seven attending priests.

Participants then regathered in the school hall to watch a performance by Christian mime artist Steve Murray, who interspersed the session with short reflections and by sharing his testimony of how he had come to faith through the human warmth which he had discovered in a Baptist church.

After a night’s camping,  the morning started with the YFC band, who provided music throughout the day. Sr Theresa from the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham (COLW) explored the theme of ‘Rise Up’ before a series of workshops. These included: playing contemporary Christian music, modern calligraphy,  sumo suit wrestling, clay-moulding, painting with God and rosary making. Fr Luke led a model plane making session and Sisters from COLW led a “taste and see that the Lord is good” session about the discerning your vocation, involving a candy floss machine.

In the afternoon, Bishop Peter Collins led an atmospheric Mass inside a tent in the school gymnasium. Speaking on Vocations Sunday, he said: “Our Catholic vocation begins at baptism but then we must spend our lives exploring, discerning our pathway into discipleship.

“There will be a few moments when God’s grace clearly prompts us to take a particular pathway. We are charged with the great responsibility of recognising the voice of the shepherd. Attuning spiritually to the voice of the good shepherd takes time, a task that will span an entire lifetime.

“Then there comes the question of obedience – the moment of decisive decision. Do not follow the promptings of those voices that directly contradict the Saviour. We will want for nothing only if we learn to recognise the voice and visage of the good shepherd,” said Bishop Peter.

Afterwards Bishop Peter opened himself up for a Q&A session from the young people (see panel below) followed by a barbecue.

In the session on Sunday evening, Sophie Periera from the Ignite Team shared how she had been at the Ignite Festival five years ago and during Adoration became more aware of God’s unconditional love for her while going through a difficult time. She played and sang Reckless Love – the song she had heard five years before:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
And I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Fr Luke then gave a talk inviting people before to re-commit themselves to Christ before exposing the Blessed Sacrament. Fr Gladson Dabre (from Clare Priory) then went round to each person in the room bringing the Blessed Sacrament to them  so they were face to face with Jesus, and praying for them. 

The festival concluded with a celebration disco.

The following morning, a record 140 young people from the Ignite Festival walked the five miles from Waterden church near South Creake to join the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham.

The festival was supported by an enthusiastic team of volunteers, including Evangelisation Lead Rebecca Bretherton and Helena Judd from Radio Maria.

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers who worked so hard to put the festival on. It is hard work but when you hear young people say things like they didn’t really believe in God before the festival but now they do, it’s definitely all worthwhile!,” said Hamish MacQueen Director of Diocesan Youth Service.

Young people question Bishop Peter

Bishop Peter faced an open Q&A session with young people at the Ignite Festival, during which he revealed:

Favourite food: I love cheese and onion sandwiches.

Favourite sport: I like playing rugby and golf and supporting the Welsh rugby union team.

Favourite films: I Iike comedy and all sci-fi films.

Favourite hobby: Reading is my number one activity. I have a large collection of books including 45 Bibles.

Career choice: In my teens I thought about becoming an economist and a teacher of theology. Then I persuaded my Archbishop to send me to seminary.

Call to priesthood: From the age of five I used to play at Mass at home on the mantlepiece and my friend Ann was my altar server. It was the beginning of my journey to priesthood and a sequence of decisions not just one. I have now been ordained as a priest for 39 years.

Becoming Bishop: One day last October I received a call from the Apostolic Nuncio to go to Wimbledon – I was either in trouble or going to be asked to become a bishop – I did not know which.

I was asked if I would accept the nomination as Bishop of East Anglia – and I said yes. It is a duty to serve the diocese and I need your prayers.

Click here or see below for a full picture gallery of the Ignite Youth Festival.

Ignite Youth Festival, Swaffham, May 2023