Count Your Blessings

Phil reflects on the latest events in Westminster Youth Ministry.

Phil and his boss Cardinal Vincent Nichols at Flame 2017 (Photo: CBCEW)
Phil and his boss Cardinal Vincent Nichols at Flame 2017 (Photo: CBCEW)

My mum used to say to me from time to time that it’s important to ‘Count your Blessings’, and I think Lent is the perfect time for me to reflect on my mum’s words.

In my role as Director of Westminster Youth Ministry (WYM) and Director of SPEC, I am blessed to have a role that allows me to work alongside a rich variety of people and affords me the opportunity to be involved in an amazingly diverse range of projects. Both WYM and SPEC are doing fabulous work right now and the teams are certainly on fire. I am lucky to have such strong teams around me – they make me look good.

Here’s a standard weekend for me. If not maybe that typical!

WYM helped over 1,000 young people from the schools and parishes of our diocese attend Flame 2017 at Wembley Arena, all wearing red, Westminster t-shirts, and the photos are a testimony to the fantastic time they all had. To be there to witness such happiness is a joy in itself, accepting that the noise of enjoyment echoing around the arena, especially for those of us of advanced years, was bewildering at times. I felt compelled to stand and then sit and then stand again at times – a bit like the Okey cokey to exceptionally loud Christian music. I think I enjoyed myself.

And whilst all this Flame 2017 joy at Wembley was overflowing, the builders at SPEC began moving into a high gear ready for the demotion of our garages. I literally had to hot-foot from Wembley to Pinner to ensure that, hard hat and high-vis jacket in place, we had a clear car park ready for the work to commence.

The SPEC campus is looking the real deal now and it’ll be ready by early May; that sounds very soon to me right now but I’m doing my utmost to remain calm!

On the very same Saturday, a completely separate set of builders also chose to move into high gear and they worked all day on the refurbishment of one of SPEC’s wooden cabins. A new roof, new floor, fresh insulation and a whole range of other key elements are on the agenda and the builders are certainly doing a fine job; it’ll be ready in early April. The cabin will become a centre for art and music.

Sunday saw me hop to Heathrow to do some SPEC pick-ups from Terminal 3 only to find out that there were two hour delays in the customs hall; these things happen I guess.

Save it so say that by Sunday evening I wished that my Lent ‘no alcohol’ wasn’t my principal observance.

Yes, mum, I do count my blessings and I have a job that allows me to do that every day. I know how lucky I am.