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LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL CELEBRATING 50 YEARS

- A LOOK BACK AT OUR COMMEMORATIVE ISSUE

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By Father Simon Gore

I suppose, as in many walks of life, the working year here at Animate has peaks and troughs. The first term is always a busy one as we have lots of schools wanting to book in Year 7 retreats. The middle term tends to be quieter. There is enough to keep us occupied but we tend to get asked to do fewer retreats between January and Easter.

In the final term, by contrast, we have different projects reaching a conclusion. We get the usual retreats booked in by groups that want something for their young people to end the year with. And we quite often have whole school missions as a way for a school to bring the year to an end.
For us at Animate, there are also year-long projects that now reach a completion. This year will see the Sacrament of Confirmation take place in our churches in the summer term. As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, and we can hope that the sun is shining, it will be a nice reminder for all of us of the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit that guides us through life.
We also have a full Faith in Action award programme and – for the first time in three years – the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes to plan for and look forward to.
I may well have mentioned it here before but I recall at our Lenten Youth Alive Mass in Crosby in 2020 saying that there was no way the Lourdes pilgrimage would be cancelled in the summer. HCPT had just cancelled their pilgrimage, but that was to take place at Easter. We would be fine in the summer. As incorrect statements go, it may be up there with the guy that rejected the Beatles!
Lourdes 2020 was more or less all virtual for us. And Lourdes 2021 combined the virtual with different events each day. I actually quite enjoyed the 2021 version with its events that tried to replicate the ‘Lourdes experience’. But it was not the same as being on the full pilgrimage.
Similarly, in 2020 we distributed certificates to schools and parishes that had managed to complete, as best as they could, the FIA award. And in 2021 as individuals could do more with the scheme, schools and parishes asked for certificates and badges so they could hold local award ceremonies. Again, though, it is not quite the same as having schools and parishes from all over the diocese gather together as one with the bishop to affirm those young people for their accomplishments. Fortunately, this year we are able once more to plan these bigger, diocese-wide celebrations.
That said, Covid has had an odd effect. There has been a drop in numbers for the Liverpool Youth Pilgrimage to Lourdes. This year we are only taking seven coaches rather than the nine we were used to. Although sad to be taking fewer young people, it may be for the best this year when we would probably expect there to be fewer assisted pilgrims to work with as well as the possibility of extra administration for travel.
On a more positive note, the numbers for the FIA award have risen dramatically with over 2,000 signed up, compared with 1,200 in 2020. Who knows how these things work but whatever the reason, it makes for a busy final term – but a much more preferable way of working than the previous two years of virtual work and pared-down interaction.
For me, this period is always a high point. You get to see so much of what you have been doing come to fruition. It can be great to see how the retreats have evolved over the year as the team get more confident in their work and how the plans for the FIA awards and the Lourdes pilgrimage all come together.
It is also a privilege to be at these events and see so many young people gathered together to share and celebrate their faith. I guess I am in a fairly significant minority that does get to see all of this. And so I write this in the hope that if you do not know too much about these end-of-year events, or are not able to be part of them, that you can at least keep in your prayers those young people who will be concluding their academic year with any one or more of these activities – be it a retreat, the Sacrament of Confirmation, an FIA award from the bishop or a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
 

My favourite time of year

Fortunately, this year we are able once more to plan these bigger, diocese-wide celebrations

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