103 young people from Luton, who are preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation came together on Saturday 28th March for ‘Blaze Luton’ - an event that gave the young Confirmandi a chance to be together, pray, think deeply about what the sacrament means to them and to meet Bishop Peter.
Any unsuspecting Confirmand who thought they were in for a quiet day had a rude awakening and soon found themselves in a giant relay race with a twist: polo mints were racing down the aisles being passed from person to person with a straw to be held between the teeth. Once all were warmed up and ready to begin, the day’s key-note speaker launched into his big question for the Confirmandi: Are you really free? Confirmandi, catechists and clergy alike were invited to consider what freedom is: does it simply mean doing what we want, when we want? Are we sometimes guilty of thinking that the earth (and therefore ourselves!) is at the centre of a universe, just as the medieval world believed, with everything else in orbit around us? When the world is seen through this lens, we are too busy to pray, the pews in church are uncomfortable, and we begin to pursue ‘freedoms’ without considering the cost. Real freedom comes only when we put God first, and the Confirmandi were challenged to truly make God the centre of their universe before they confirm the promises made on their behalf at baptism.
The talk asked some deep questions of the Confirmandi and they were there given the chance to pray quietly, at a number of creative prayer spaces, as well as receiving the sacrament of reconciliation if they wished. No fewer than 9 clergy came along to minister to young people in this time and their were lots of smiling young saints just before lunch.
Confirmandi also had the chance to explore different workshops with a range of themes, including how the Holy Spirit has been depicted in art and the chance for the young people to create some masterpieces of their own. CAFOD looked at how young people can fight for social justice while others found out what it means to be men of God! (In fact, there are clues to this calling in many modern superhero films as well as in the lives of truly strong saints such as Maximilian Kolbe). Some took part in the workshop just for girls, to better understand their destiny as Daughters of a King! (What does God have to do with beauty and femininity?)
The rains just about held off during lunchtime, and so Confirmandi were able to explore the beautiful grounds at Thornton College and have a game of football on the field. In the afternoon Bishop Peter presided at Mass: the hall was filled with the singing of youthful Luton voices and decorated beautifully with some inspired artwork depicted the Holy Spirit at work.
At the end of the day, Bishop Peter took questions from the Confirmandi. Young people had been Tweeting questions for the Bishop throughout their day and Bishop Peter answered all sorts of questions from, “What is your favourite Bible story?” to “Have you ever had a girlfriend?!”
Marlyn is part of the team of catechists from Sacred Heart parish. “I think the best part of the day was the talk in the morning, but I just enjoyed spending time with our children in a relaxed environment and getting to know them a bit better. We sometimes concentrate so much on teaching and forming them, that we forget about that side of things! Confirmandi from Sacred Heart presented Bishop Peter with letters they had written for him during their catechetical meetings. “It’s great that they get the chance to speak to the Bishop and see that he is quite normal!” Luton Confirmandi will be receiving the sacrament of Confirmation in the coming months. They can be assured of the prayers of all from NYMO and the teams of catechists that are working hard to prepare them.