For anybody who followed my World Youth Day blogs last summer, you will know how much I enjoyed the solidarity in faith shared between the thousands of other young people attending in Madrid.
The Flame Congress came as close to World Youth Day as I may ever get to experience at home in the UK. The event brought speakers from around the world to Wembley Arena where they spoke around the topics of the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship. They weaved their goals of athletic success with their commitment to their Christian faith.
I was particularly inspired by Stef Reid, a Paralympian who has faced diversity after she lost her foot in a boating accident. After questioning God’s plan and turning away from sport initially, she now competes in the 100m, 200m and the long jump. A truly humbling story of courage and living life to the full as God calls all of us to do.
During the breaks, you could really get a sense of the effect the day was having on everybody.
It was such a joyous (not to mention extremely sunny!) place to be for the few hours we spent together in London. As I looked around the 8000-strong crowd inside the arena, I felt a mixture of emotions.
I was proud to see so many young people standing strong in their faith, blessed that I was able to share such an amazing spiritual experience with them and most of all, I was excited that standing all around me was the future generation of our world who are all called to excellence, respect and most importantly, called to be friends to all. As it was so profoundly put during one of the sessions, “Every stranger is a friend waiting to happen”.
About the author: I’m Michael. I’m a 21 year old maths student at the University of Edinburgh, originally from the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. I have been volunteering for CAFOD for around five years and was involved with CAFOD’s fantastic gap year programme Step into the Gap. I attended Flame as I am passionate about young people sharing their stories and faiths with each other. I was left totally inspired by the whole event!