The Youth 2000 e-festival will be a place where young people can encounter God in fresh ways, writes Amy-Hurle McCann
Youth 2000 Ireland has a full calendar each year with eight regional retreats, a Christmas festival and a summer festival. The Youth 2000 leadership team work tirelessly throughout the year to make each retreat a faith-filled space where the participants can encounter the living God. The summer festival has always been the highpoint, usually lasting four days, it sees approximately 1,000 young people aged 16-35 come together for fellowship and fun.
Where summer festivals are concerned, you could call the Youth 2000 event the Catholic ‘Oxygen’. This year it was scheduled to take place on the weekend of August 15, 2020.
However, as the world came to a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was inevitable that the summer festival would not take its usual format. Observing social distancing guidelines would make it impossible to cater for the large numbers of young people who usually attend the residential retreat, not to mention the heavy traffic of day visitors that come and go throughout the four days.
The team have prayerfully decided to hold an e-festival instead. Using the online platform, the e-festival will deliver the key elements of the traditional summer festival and will allow young people to engage with the content from the safety of their own homes.
Many other Faith events have made the decision to adapt and deliver their content online, such as Scotland’s ‘Stronghold’ and the Cork Dominicians’ ‘Ignite Conference’. The Youth 2000 leadership team have observed these fantastic events and have considered what would work for Youth 2000’s unique ministry; that is, of youth bringing youth to the heart of the Church.
The genesis of the idea builds upon the successful online presence Youth 2000 has garnered during lockdown through the help and hard work of its young volunteers. Already fluent in the digital sphere, and knowing what is attractive to young people, a successful online community has flourished.
Youth 2000’s social media profiles are active and fruitful with different posts each day, such as shout-out Mondays, wisdom Wednesdays and throwback Thursdays.
There has also been catechesis online; live streamed adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and workshops every Friday evening with inspiring speakers. All of this comes from the desire of Youth 2000 to be evangelistic, to engage young people who already have an active online presence, and to attract them with Youth 2000’s joy and enthusiasm.
Like the mustard seed, it is the hope that the summer e-festival would be a catalyst where young people can encounter God, and that it would kindle in them, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, a desire to attend future retreats.
The summer e-festival will take place on August 14-16. The itinerary is set to be exciting and inspiring.
Some major Catholic speakers are scheduled to give talks, including Fr John Harris OP, Scott Hahn, Beth Davis, Sr Colleen Mattingly OP, John Pridmore and many more.
There will be celebrations of Mass, 24-hour Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, and a healing service – all hallmarks of the usual summer festival.
What sets this online event apart from the many others out there in the virtual field is the unwavering emphasis on the Sacraments. The Eucharist, the “source and summit” of our Faith, will be front and centre of the e-festival. It will be an interactive event with opportunities to engage and enjoy the craic with the two young host presenters via the Facebook Live and Instagram Live feeds.
The theme for this year comes from Psalm 118.14: “The Lord is my strength and my song” and we are assured of plenty of songs…some things never change!
The e-festival will be streamed live, but it will not be available post-event. So, go to www.youth2000.ie where it is free to register. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity and witness young people using their skills and creative gifts at the service of the Gospel even in uncertain times.