Flame 2017: 10,000 reasons to hope
13 March 2017
On 11 March, the SSE arena, Wembley, was set ablaze by the hope and enthusiasm of thousands of young people.
Described by speaker from Myanmar, Cardinal Bo, as a "chance to celebrate our faith with brothers and sisters from all over England and Wales", Flame 2017 was a day filled with joy, optimism and 10,000 reasons to hope.
Organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFED), Flame is the largest gathering of young Catholics in the UK, attracting youth groups from across the country – and even as far away as Norway.
The theme of the day, 10,000 reasons (to hope) was inspired by Grammy Award winner Matt Redman’s song of the same name, which he performed at the event.
Through plays, talks, dance and music, the day brought thousands of young people together in their faith and encouraged them to care for those in need, especially refugees.
A tiny wooden boat, previously used to carry refugees from Turkey to the island of Lampedusa, was lit up on stage for the entirety of the day, a powerful symbol of those who are suffering.
CAFOD young volunteers raise their voices
During lunchtime, 50 CAFOD young volunteers ran activities which included cycling on bicycles to generate electricity and show the power of renewable energy; there was also a photo-booth challenge when young people wrote messages of hope to refugees and took photos with giant HOPE letters, to raise awareness of the CAFOD campaign which saw 25,000 messages from parishes, school and communities across England and Wales, sent to refugees around the world.
CAFOD volunteers Ryan Wilkinson and Leah Fox, both 19, who are interviewed in the video above about their trip to Lebanon, added a personal perspective by sharing their experience of visiting refugees in Lebanon.
“We knew young people really wanted to do something to help, so we started gathering messages of hope they had written to show their support. I collected nearly 500 last year,” said Leah.
Ryan, who volunteers at a Salesians retreat centre in Sheffield, concluded: “I think that as a community of Christians, faith ties us together and motivates me to go out and share that passion with others, to help them experience the same sense of community and passion.”
CAFOD theology adviser Fr. Augusto encouraged the young people gathered to "try to see the world through the eyes of the most needy" – something Pope Francis had taught him to do as a trainee priest.
Inspired to act
The audience was evidently inspired by these words. Tobi Oyedele said "you're in my heart. I pray for you all, so that you can carry on and not give up." Chris Bird, another CAFOD volunteer, described how he was "constantly amazed by the strength of refugees" and that they were "in his prayers always".
Whilst the talks around refugees were evidently sobering, there was also inspiration to act. Sarah Teather of the Jesuit Refugee Service encouraged all 10,000 young people present to imagine what could be achieved if they all did just one thing to help refugees – that, she emphasised, would be 10,000 reasons to hope.
Cardinal Bo, a cardinal from Myanmar, reiterated this potential of young people. He told the crowds: "You are the fire to light another fire – the fire of love, compassion and fellowship" and later remarked that "through volunteering and working for CAFOD they can help reach the most vulnerable people in the world."
Overall the day was a great success and we would like to say thank you to everyone who spoke, volunteered and travelled from across the country to attend.
Visit our Flame 2017 webpage for resources, links to the Flame films, and find out how to get involved with CAFOD.