The Diocese of East Anglia’s Ignite Youth Mission Team has just celebrated its fifth birthday but this academic year, unsurprisingly, poses some unique challenges to their work of evangelisation among children and young people.
In a normal autumn, the Ignite Team would be beginning a period of initial formation and training as a new community prepare to live and minister together over the coming months. This year, however, the diocese decided to postpone new recruitment until 2021 because of the complications posed by the pandemic.
“It certainly will be an unusual year,” says Hamish MacQueen, the director of the Diocesan Youth Service. “The team will be smaller – only Ciaran (the Ignite Team Leader) and I will be working full-time – but we hope to still be able to reach many young people online and in person, when possible. So much of our work has previously been based around face-to-face sessions and retreat days.
“The real challenge is making sure that we can still present the message of Jesus and his Church in a way that is just as compelling, even if we can’t do everything we’ve always done.”
Plans for the year include First Fridays, a new monthly online chat show, bringing the diocesan primary schools together for special streamed assemblies and continuing to boost Ignite’s presence on social media, where so many young people spend much of their free time.
The team also hope that schools, both non-Catholic and Catholic, will continue to invite them to run sessions either in person or online.
There’s still a question mark, however, over whether the main face-to-face events of the year will go ahead as before, such as the local Glow days around the diocese and the annual Ignite Festival.
“We’ll have to keep our eyes on the ever-changing situation,” Hamish reflects. “The wellbeing of children and young people is paramount so we’ll only run a face-to-face event if we are confident it can be done safely.”
In spite of the challenges, though, there is a still an air of enthusiasm about those involved with Ignite. “One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is how our Catholic faith can transform the lives of young people,” says Ciaran Losasso, the Ignite Team leader. “The Ignite Team still gets to share how great it is to have a relationship with God lived out in the arms of our mother, the Church. It’s the best message in the world. No virus can change that.”
If you would like to invite the Ignite Team to work with children and young people in your parish or school – in person or online – then please contact Ciaran Losasso via [email protected]