Kate from the Animate Gap Year Team reflects on the Easter journeys that helped to refuel her faith.
He is Risen! Easter for myself is about new beginnings, a time to resurrect our lives with the passion, purpose and happiness we can share with those around us. I saw a quote on Twitter that said Easter was a time to start over and try again. It likened Easter to a bunch of flowers – they bloom each spring but eventually die, but that doesn’t stop them from being beautiful and, in time, growing back. This acts as a reminder that we are all able to revitalise our hearts and minds in order to carry on our faith journey; we can do this at any time yet Easter is a perfect place to begin.
In the case of myself and the Animate team, we began our Easter break by heading south to Worth Abbey in Surrey for a week-long retreat. The Abbey was hosting Joel’s Bar, a Catholic Charismatic event that is part of the Celebrate Conferences. It is billed as a time to encounter Jesus and become alive in the Spirit – and that’s exactly what we did! The week consisted of listening to speakers, worship, prayer with the monks, Mass, and times of ministry. The theme was ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9). This is something that a lot of young people need to hear about and be encouraged by. Not only is God protecting us, He equips us with armour to live a fulfilled life with Him.
A highlight for me was a ministry activity called ‘Time in the Tent’ where I was prayed over for the first time. It provided a moment to reflect on the Word spoken to me by God and reassure myself that I have found the correct vocation and calling. This was my first time going on a retreat and it was initially strange as I’m used to leading them, yet I found it the most perfect way to rejuvenate my faith and gain the spiritual fuel needed to remind myself why I love the job that I do.
And as if Joel’s Bar wasn’t enough, I also travelled to Lourdes with HCPT 194 for their annual pilgrimage, taking disabled and disadvantaged children from the Wigan area away for a week. I can honestly say this was one of the most amazing weeks of my life; seeing so much joy and love touching so many children’s and helpers’ lives reminded me of how much God loves each and every one of us.
The Welsh region led the pilgrimage this year with the theme of ‘Cariad – God’s love is the best love’, a fitting theme to tie in with the Easter period given the sacrificial love Christ showed for us. From the quietness and peacefulness of the Grotto, to the array of colour, chaos and noise at the Trust Mass, there are few words that can fully capture the uniqueness and pure joy that surrounds the domain of Lourdes. It is an experience I will never forget.
Taking a gap year with Animate has provided me with such amazing opportunities – a time to develop as an individual in confidence and in faith, as well as to plant the fruit of faith among the young people of the Archdiocese. Hence the importance of these opportunities to renew our own faith so that we can give back so much more to the young people we serve.