The annual summer festival of faith organised by Youth 2000 relocated from Clonmacnois this year to the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St Joseph, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. Up to 1,000 young adults attended this event which took place from 15 to 18 August in the Cistercian College in the monastic grounds. Three hundred of these young people were aged 16 to 18 years old so the festival was a lively expression of the Christian commitment of many youth in the Irish church of today.
Christian rock band Elation, workshops on wideranging aspects of faith, prayer and Christian life, reconciliation and healing sessions, the celebration of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration, personal testimonies and general fun and socialising filled the four-day festival with diverse goings-on all expertly organised by James Mahon and his team of Youth 2000 volunteering young adults.
This year’s festival was distinctively marked by the nearby presence of the Cistercian monastery of monks alongside the college environs where some young adults joined the monastic liturgy over the weekend, even rising early to attend Vigils.
Dom Richard Purcell, Abbot of Mount Saint Joseph Abbey, warmly welcomed festival participants, noting in his opening address that St Benedict in his rule is careful to instruct his monks that “all guests who arrive at the monastery should be received like Christ”.
Monks and nuns represented the six Irish Cistercian monasteries at the event and joined in with prayer and attendance at the festival activities and greeting the young participants. Dom Richard opened the doors of the monastery for a daily tour, a unique invitation which was taken up by over 150 young adults in the course of the festival. Br Malachy, vocation director of Mount St Joseph Abbey spoke about the contemplative vocation at a vocation discernment workshop and Fr Aelred of Portglanone and Sr Sarah of Glencairn also led workshops on Lectio Divina or sacred reading, a daily form of praying with scriptures that form monks and nuns in the Cistercian life.
Evening prayer at the festival on Saturday took on a monastic flavour, taking place in the Abbey Church where an estimated 800 young festival participants filled up every space in the church, joining the monastic community for Vespers at which Abbot Richard gave a homily.
The weekend closed with mass celebrated by Bishop Caggiano of Brooklyn, New York, the very well received guest speaker at this years festival.
Photo: Abbot Richard Purcell ocso of Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea addressing festival participants in the College.