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Luke Barton reflects on a memorable year with the Animate Youth Ministries team.
Twelve months ago, I was preparing to go to university and was just waiting to get my results so I could confirm my place. Now, I’m making the same preparations all over again. The reason why? While in Lourdes last summer, a friend suggested to me that I join the Animate team, and I have no reservations in saying it has been an amazing year.
At first, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I’d never really been part of a close-knit community before, and I wasn’t really the most sociable of people, but from the first night in Lowe House I knew I had made the right decision. Sitting around the fire with the people I’d be spending a year of my life with, I felt welcomed.
Animate has offered me so many amazing things, and the time I’ve spent here has had a massive impact on my life. Every week, we’ve spent time together as a community and shared different activities – be it simply playing a few games in the lounge or going to Knowsley Safari Park, these few hours every week have really helped me to come out of my shell and get to know the people around me.
It’s not just the community side of things, either; being at Animate has really helped me to grow in my faith. Engaging in more traditional styles of prayer, such as the Divine Office and Lectio Divina, has really helped me to understand my faith a lot more and learn about different aspects of Catholicism. A motivating factor has been the work we do with young people, as I’ve picked apart different pieces of scripture to help me understand better the meaning behind each passage before then explaining it to others.
The biggest impact that Animate has had is on my personal prayer life. Before I joined the team, I’d struggled with praying for my own intentions, and I felt like this was affecting my relationship with God. Being at Animate, however, has offered me many chances to strengthen my personal prayer. Not only has this helped me to pray in private, but it has also helped me with my ability to plan and prepare communal prayers, as well as giving me the confidence to lead prayers in group situations.
The last 12 months have been some of the best I’ve ever had. From working with young people and watching them grow in their faith to going on pilgrimage to Italy and travelling on my own faith journey, I have no regrets about joining the Animate team. It has helped me grow as a person, as a member of community, but most importantly, it has helped me grow as a Catholic.
Dates for the Diary
• Alpha – Tuesday 2 July (6-8pm) at the Life and Soul Café, Lowe House, 99 Crab St, St Helens, WA10 2BE
A chance to learn more about your faith and meet other young people. Come along for a video and discussion – and a bite to eat afterwards.
• Lourdes Departure Mass – Sunday 7 July (6.30pm) at St Mary’s Church, Lowe House.