Easter is Hope. These are the words of Basil Hume, which probably best summarise the celebration of Easter during the latest lockdown. As Catholics we believe and hope for life in the presence of the Lord. However, we also hope for Westminster Youth Ministry to be able to minister again in person to the young people of the diocese at the time of easing lockdown restrictions.
During Lent and the days leading to Holy Week, the SPEC Retreat Centre was able to offer online Confirmation Retreats. In Eastertide and the following weeks, the retreat centre is offering day retreats at our site in Pinner. These will be normally organised by schools that already work with young people in bubbles. We will be waiting for the government guidelines with respect of the residential retreats. At this stage, we estimate that these may be possible from September 2021.
In order to restart our retreat programme, we recruited a Senior Programmes Retreat Leader at the beginning of the year and we are currently in the process of recruiting two non-residential Retreat Leaders. There are plans for the recruitment of further two Retreat Leaders later on this year. From September, we will be offering a SPEC volunteering programme for young people wanting to help with retreats. We hope this will be a humble beginning of rebuilding volunteer community at SPEC.
In the meantime, we are looking for retreat leaders who have some experience of leading groups in the parish or school context. Additional training will be provided and this will be paid at an hourly rate. For those less experienced, but interested in supporting retreats, we are offering an interim volunteering scheme with training and expenses paid. Please get in touch with Maria West or Ruth Warner if you are interested in any of these roles at email@example.com.
The Westminster Youth Ministry Outreach Team continues to support the youth work in parishes. The team also works with young adults (18-35 years) who are interested in developing their faith and getting involved in their parish. The main focus of the team is to create a support network for the parish youth work and offers related training and assistance. We hope that as many parishes as possible can tap into this diocesan resource.
As part of the Network, the team organises training on topics that are relevant to young people and young adults, such as recently delivered Mental Health First Aid and LGBTQ. The training is led by experts in their field and are free to youth leaders from the Diocese of Westminster. Places are usually limited, so please check our website and promotional material and book early.
For our schools, Westminster Youth Ministry, together with Catholic Voices, is launching a brand-new project to raise up the next generation of Catholic leaders. ‘Rise up’ has been created to train, equip and inspire young people in their leadership skills and faith formation. The course will start in September and is for practicing Catholics aged 15-21 who live, work or study in the Diocese of Westminster. We are excited to share this with you and think it will be unique opportunity for 20 young people of our diocese. The applications are currently open and close on 31 July. All the details and information on taster sessions can be found here.
Our training and events are currently taking place online. The former will continue in the online form even when lockdown restrictions are eased; however, we hope to return to in-person events as soon as these become possible. We update our website regularly and strongly encourage to check for any further developments.
We are grateful for all support and prayers during these challenging times. The message of Easter encourages us, the message of Hope we strive to share with everyone. We very look forward to others joining us in this mission.