At lunch-time stuffed rolls and crisps were provided for the workers and speakers etc on the two days, and that was a good opportunity to meet and chat with some of the best Catholic speakers and leaders in the UK. I think it's vital in the Church to widen our horizons, learn from others, share experiences - whatever you want to call it. I was hugely impressed with the commitment and energy of some of the younger leaders. Oh that our diocese will be able to produce and support similar young people here...
After lunch we had a special treat. The four or five age-groups of children and teenagers each put on something that they had worked on. Wow, were they well-prepared! "Celebrate" bring in some excellent leaders and it showed. Nothing "childish" - good, appropriate material exactly right for the age-group concerned.
Christian mime artist Steve Murray then performed for the last of three or four times during the weekend, and that led into the Final Mass, at which I was main concelebrant. Well, the whole congregation was by now ready to pick up the hall and carry it to St Peter's Square in Rome. The singing came close to blowing the roof off... it was great. I felt it a privilege to be presiding at such a true celebration of faith. From the priest's perspective, of course we can see how people are reacting, and I noticed that I seemed to be "connecting" with the young people, especially with the lads, one of the hardest age-groups, so that was reassuring!One of my favourite aspects of a beautiful weekend was the music, led by Hanna Zafar from Leeds. Her choice of songs, her timing, her leading of the small group - as good as any I've seen and heard. And to end the whole thing we all sang "Bread of Heaven". It was a fantastic end to a fantastic conference.
And, guess what, we are about to decide the date for next year's!