My great gap year

Benedict from Animate explains why opting for a year of youth ministry was the best choice he ever made.

It can be difficult when you are not sure what you would like to do in life, especially when you have left school or college. I did find it a bit of a struggle, particularly knowing my friends were certain which paths they would like to take in their lives – primarily, heading to university.

However, faith has always been central to my life, and experiences like Lourdes allowed me to share my faith with others which is something I really enjoy doing. Therefore, I made the decision to step back from the whirl of thoughts in my head and opted to take a gap year within youth ministry – which meant the opportunity to share with others how amazing our faith is.

I had first encountered the work of Animate Youth Ministries during a mission week at my former high school, St John Fisher in Wigan. Back then, I found it amazing that young adults would want to show their faith in such vibrant, engaging ways as game shows and drama activities. I am now fortunate enough to be a member of the gap year team involved in delivering these same mission weeks. Recently we worked at All Hallows, Penwortham, focusing on ‘Being the face of mercy’. It was a fantastic week filled with wonderful experiences, not least collaborating with members of the pupil mission team in the dramas we used in our presentations.

Another great experience has been the many day retreats we have undertaken with high schools around the Archdiocese. It has been lovely getting to know the students and taking part in the various activities; moreover, this has enabled me to become a more confident person, especially when speaking in front of a group.

In fact, youth ministry has allowed me not only to share my faith with others, but also to understand what it is to be part of a community. It can be hard to contemplate leaving home and moving away but a community like Animate offers a very supportive and welcoming environment. Besides our work, we also find time to socialise, be it heading out to Liverpool or Manchester, or simply popping to a nearby restaurant.

To be able to live and work alongside one another is not something everyone gets to experience. And at the heart of this life is prayer and sharing Christian values – which is precisely what permits us to function so well as a youth ministry team.

People often ask what has been the highlight of my Animate career. I find it difficult not to see it all as one great highlight. To me, there is nothing better than to explore my faith as part of a community and to inspire young people to explore theirs. So if you are uncertain about your future and think a gap year could be beneficial, it is definitely worth giving youth ministry serious consideration.