On Saturday, 2 March, just around 150 people travelled to Wembley Arena for Flame 2019 – the biggest Catholic youth event in England and Wales, attended by more than 8,500 people. This included 130 young people drawn from the High Schools in the Diocese, and the Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam Chaplaincies.
They were accompanied by around 20 adults – School Chaplains, staff and other volunteers, including Bishop Ralph, Fr Lee Marshall, Fr James Shekelton, and two sisters from the Daughters of Divine Charity in Chesterfield – Sr Linda and Sr Michaela.
This was the fourth Flame Congress but it was the first time all the various groups had joined together, travelling in three coaches, as one organised Hallam group with everyone easily identifiable in their Hallam Hoodies, including Bishop Ralph!
The theme of the day was “Significance”. The inspiring speakers included Guvna B and Emma Borquaye, founder of a blog for teenage girls, www.girlgotfaith.com, David Wells, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and a video message from Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche community. In different ways, the speakers invited us to recognise that each person’s life is unique, and that we are exactly as God made us – we are special to God.
For many, the highlight was a talk by Robert Madu, an American pastor from Texas, who compared our lives to a race and encouraged us to, “Stay in our lane, and keep our eyes on Jesus”, and to “Stay on our own mark, rather than other people’s marks”, warning against measuring self-esteem in Twitter and Instagram likes, or responses on Facebook and Snapchat; telling us “Comparison is the thief of joy; comparison is the cancer of contentment”.
There was lively music and praise throughout the day, but the quiet stillness of the Arena during the period of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to conclude the event was one of the most powerful moments.
Before everyone got on their coaches to leave Wembley, Bishop Ralph thanked the School Chaplains for organising the day and thanked all the young people for taking part. He encouraged everyone to look out for further opportunities to continue the encounter back in the Diocese over the next few months.