8,000 young people, youth leaders, religious brothers and sisters, priests, bishops and cardinals gathered at the Ovo Arena in Wembley on Saturday 4th March for the latest Flame Congress.
Flame began in 2012, to mark the London Olympics and organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation, of which our diocese is a member. The day began with a tribute to Fr Dermott Donnelly, a priest from the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and co-founder of Flame. Among the tributes was a video message from Fr Dermott’s TV presenter brother Declan and his TV partner Ant McPartlin.
On stage throughout the day was a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are set to petition the Vatican to promote the memorial of Our Lady of Walsingham to a Feast.
This was followed by a message from Pope Francis read by Fr Dominic Howarth of the Brentwood diocese and one of the organising team of Flame.
HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS WAS PLEASED TO LEARN THAT YOUNG CATHOLICS FROM ACROSS ENGLAND AND WALES ARE GATHERING IN THE WEMBLEY ARENA FOR THE 2023 FLAME CONGRESS, AND HE SENDS HEARTFELT GOOD WISHES AND THE ASSURANCE OF HIS SPIRITUAL CLOSENESS TO ALL TAKING PART. HIS HOLINESS PRAYS THAT ALMIGHTY GOD WILL RICHLY BLESS THEIR TIME TOGETHER, SO THAT THROUGH ADORATION, MUSIC, TESTIMONIES AND THE SHARING OF FRIENDSHIP WITH CHRIST AND WITH ONE ANOTHER, ALL PRESENT WILL GROW STRONG IN FAITH AND LOVE AND BEAR WITNESS COURAGEOUSLY TO THE GOSPEL MESSAGE THAT SETS US FREE. AS THEY DO SO, IT IS HIS HOPE THAT THOSE ASSEMBLED WILL, LIKE MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD, RESPOND WITH HASTE TO THE LORD’S CALL TO FOLLOW HIM, AND IN PARTICULAR TO “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT, TO POINT TO IDEALS OTHER THAN THOSE OF THIS WORLD, TESTIFYING TO THE BEAUTY OF GENEROSITY, SERVICE, PURITY, PERSEVERANCE, FORGIVENESS, FIDELITY TO OUR PERSONAL VOCATION, PRAYER, THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE AND THE COMMON GOOD, LOVE FOR THE POOR, AND SOCIAL FRIENDSHIP” (APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION CHRISTUS VIVIT, 36). ENTRUSTING ALL THE PARTICIPANTS AND THEIR FAMILIES TO THE INTERCESSION OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM, THE HOLY FATHER GLADLY IMPARTS HIS BLESSING AS A PLEDGE OF WISDOM, JOY AND PEACE IN JESUS THE LORD.
CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN
SECRETARY OF STATE
The speakers unpacked the theme of the day taken from the World Youth Day planned for Lisbon, Portugal in July 2023:
“Mary arose and went with haste”
At the end of a packed day, the arena sat silently in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking for the strength to “Rise Up!”.