Saturday, March 17, 2007

Christ the King

On Thursday Declan and I had a great day at Christ the King College in Lewisham. We had been invited to take part in the Careers Fayre that the College hosts every year for its students. The idea of the Fayre is to get them to start thinking about their future and to open up possibilities so to have a stall promoting Catholic priesthood seemed a good idea.

We arrived at 8.00am having left the parish after the 6.45am Mass and immediately began setting up the stall. We had to leave it unmanned for the first hour because I'd accepted the offer of a slot to do a presentation on priesthood. It took place in a small classroom near the new Chaplainy block. This is a purpose built block with two rooms for the chaplains, a large common room and a very elegant Chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. I was very impressed at the excellent facilities and also at the dedication of Fr Eddie and Javier who welcomed us from the chaplaincy team.

There were about ten of us present for the presentation. We showed the video 'Fishers of Men' first and followed that with a discussion on Christian vocation in general. It gave them a lot to reflect on and a lot of the comments afterwards were about how it made them think differently about the ministry of a priest. I was pleased to leave Javier a copy of the DVD for future use.

After the presentation we went back to the 'bear pit' to man the stall. By then all the other stalls were set up and we were competing with everything from the Army to medical schools. It was great. Javier and Fr Eddie had already told us that many of the young people have a poor understanding of the faith and that some, although nominally Catholic, had started attending Pentecostal communities - a fact we quickly verified for ourselves. It didn't take long to work out our strategy: we decided to go for a variation on 'speed-dating'. We reckoned that we had to grab the attention of as many youngsters as possible and that we then had thirty seconds to get them to think again about the faith and how they practise it. Our "speed-evangelisation" worked really well and was great fun. We probably spoke to practically every young person who came into the hall - atheist or agnostic, goth or punk, Methodist or Moslem.

There were, of course, plenty of committed Catholics too and we enjoyed hearing about all the activities of the chaplaincy and of their various parishes. The icing on the cake was to meet one or two who were indeed thinking of priesthood! Another big bonus was the attitude of the other exhibitors. A surprising number came up to us and commented on how nice it was to have us there. One stall came over wanting to know more about the Mysteries of Light, and we had another question about Novenas!

We finished the day exhausted but thoroughly exhilarated.

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