CYMFed’s Flame 2023 Congress sets souls on fire at largest Catholic gathering of young people in England and Wales

Because of the COVID pandemic, Flame 2021 was postponed. However, we were finally able to come together… On Saturday 4th March, for Flame 2023!

Young Catholics from every diocese in England and Wales, with others coming from Scotland, and Ireland, just to name a few of the countries that were represented at Flame, arrived at OVO Wembley Arena for Flame. Of those young Catholics were about 300 Salesians from all over the country coming from our schools and parishes.

The theme of the day was “Rise Up”, specifically reflecting on the bible quote, “Mary arose and went with haste” (Luke 1:39), the motto chosen by Pope Francis for the upcoming World Youth Day, Portugal 2023.

The day was full of celebration, beginning with prayer and music from One Hope Project before a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was brought in, and our own Deacon Steven Lloyd SDB, read from the Gospel, to start the day off.

Students from St Angela’s and St Bonaventure’s schools showcased a piece of drama showing the angel speaking to Mary, and encouraging her to visit Elizabeth and ‘Rise up and make haste’.

Pope Francis sent his greetings and assurance of prayers to everyone at Flame who encouraged everyone to respond to the Lord’s call to follow him, and to dare to be different.

There was also a video message from TVs Ant and Dec. Dec’s brother, Fr Dermot Donnelly sadly passed away in July 2022, but was a driving force within CYMFed and Flame. Dec reminded us about Fr Dermot’s passion for working with Young People, and reminded everyone that each person at Flame was Significant in who they are and in what they do.

Robert Bilott, a lawyer from Cincinnati, spoke with David Wells about the work that he does in Environmental law. He’s most famous for taking on DuPont, one of the largest chemical countries, for their pollution into a landfill in Parkersburg, West Virginia, causing cattle to die in local farms downstream. The film ‘Dark Waters’ is about the work that Robert did as it exposed the fact that PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is used in the manufacture of Teflon has also been polluting the residents of Parkersburg.

Throughout the day we were treated to music from Guvna B, Adeniké, Faith Child, and Candice & Ibe from Premier Gospel Radio.

We then had Archbishop Tim Costelloe SDB from Perth, Australia who challenged everyone to lace up their boots, get out, get going and take risks, just as Mary did when she Rose up and made haste to meet up with her cousin Elizabeth. Also to build bridges with each other and not walls, and challenged them to think “On the way home from Flame, ask yourself, What do I need to do?”

We then got the opportunity to hear about the work that CAFOD was doing in Colombia, when Jenny Garzón Saavedra, a worker with CAFOD partner FUNVIPAS, spoke about the work that they do and told her story and dream that the deforestation of the Amazon will not be enough to cause the Amazon to disappear.

Following a short break, Cardinal Tagle took to the stage and spoke about some of the angels that had inspired his journey. He spoke about his maternal grandmother, and how she raised her children after her husband was killed in WWII. He offered the reflection that God sends Angels to help us, and that for him his grandparents and his parents have been the angels from God that have helped him on his journey of faith. He concluded by saying “I rise up for prayer in the family, I rise up for liturgy, I rise up for devotion”.

The day then concluded with prayer in the form of Adoration. Each diocese and congregation was represented by a young person who was invited onto the stage to sit with the bishops and be close to the Blessed Sacrament. Led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the time was spent by everyone in deep reflection and prayer before concluding with songs by One Hope Project and Guvna B.

There was more media from the day:

SalesianLink Flickr album