Looking back on 2016/17

By Father Simon Gore

Father Simon Gore reflects on another productive year for Animate Youth Ministries

Once again it is my turn to offer a small retrospective on the year here at Lowe House. It seems to come around very quickly as it only feels a few short weeks ago that I was writing about the team of 2015/16 leaving and yet here are their 2016/17 successors heading off on their separate journeys too.

This year has been an interesting one in many ways: we have had a smaller team than in the past but we have also attempted a number of new initiatives with this smaller team. As the year began I was a little apprehensive over how this would play out. I wondered if a smaller group would be able to manage the different work thrown at them. Fortunately, as our time together as a community comes to an end, I think we can look back on a productive year.

Over 2016/17 we have worked with the majority of our diocesan high schools, offering day retreats, mission weeks and mission days. We have also worked with a large number of primary schools with transition days for Year 6 pupils in the final term. We have spread our wings too and worked with schools in our neighbouring dioceses who do not have access to a team such as Animate. Our thanks goes to all of these schools.

Additionally, we took Life and Soul, our night of praise and worship before the Blessed Sacrament, on the road this year. Many of you reading this article may have been to one of the evenings. It was a lovely experience for us to meet so many people in their own home parishes. The feedback we received was very positive from those that came along and so we will be doing the same next year.

Finally, after its launch in May last year, the new Faith in Action scheme was put into practice in the diocese during 2016/17. With a new scheme there is always some trepidation over how plans on paper will transfer into reality. Fortunately, we had over 400 young people from parishes, primary schools and high schools taking part. The majority aimed for the lowest award – the pin level – but a handful completed the highest gold award. My hope is that those who began with the pin level will continue with the scheme over the next few years and work up to the gold award, so helping the scheme to grow as the years go by. Many thanks, therefore, to all those young people, teachers and priests who supported and led Faith in Action this year.

With many different things happening through the year it might have been easy for the team to lose focus but it has been good to see them adapt to the challenges faced and grow in confidence as their time together progressed. And so, having thanked the teachers and young people of the schools we have worked with, and the parishioners who attended the Life and Soul events, and all those involved in Faith in Action, it is only right to end by offering my thanks to the team of 2016/17 for all of their hard work.

Please remember in your prayers Michael Oakley who will be going to train as a teacher in the Wigan consortium of Catholic schools, and Benedict Ratchford who will be going to university to study Geography. Sarah Beatty, Lauren Lynch and Tom Hallsworth will remain with us and we will introduce you to the new team members who will be joining them in the September issue.