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Last Easter week I went for my first Celebrate in Ilfracombe, Devon. The praise and the talks were great. Perhaps what struck me most about it was the way in which whole families were involved and that young people who have grown up with Celebrate have become mature and confident Christians. I think there are lessons here for the Church as a whole - lessons about how to create space for young people both to be themselves and develop their own Christian identity.

THE CELEBRATE VISION CELEBRATE SEEKS TO: • Provide an atmosphere of friendship and close fellowship, thereby promoting a real sense of community for formation and mission. • Celebrate the Liturgy in the best possible way for the people present.

• Offer the best available teaching, based on the Scriptures and the teaching documents of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Kevin McDonald

• Include among those invited as speakers men and women from Protestant, Pentecostal and Non-Denominational charismatic churches and fellowships, so that we benefit from their gifts and thereby promote unity among Christians. • Hold to the central truths of the Catholic faith without emphasising those devotions which are a matter of personal choice. • Provide spiritually for children, teenagers and young adults in streams or groups according to age or academic year. • Show our young people in particular that it’s exciting, fun, and challenging to be a Christian today. • Encourage on-going friendship among those who attend Celebrate events. • Give everyone the freedom to be fully charismatic, while remaining sensitive to those not coming from this faith experience.

What has affected me most is the growth of our parish prayer group. Following the Celebrate weekend, people who have come want to continue to worship and grow together.

• Offer Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Life in the Spirit Seminars. • Encourage creative activities and use drama, mime, art and music to emphasise the Gospel message.

Canon Matthew Jones

• Invite everyone to participate in lively praise and worship, and include the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. • Offer personal prayer by trained prayer teams • Use money raised in the Celebrate Offering to sponsor training and development for individuals, communities, groups and special ministries. • Promote and support an awareness of social, moral, ethical and justice issues, and provide funds from the Offering for Christian work in disaster areas. • Support financially and practically Christian organisations which share a similar vision, and work for renewal in the church.


Charles & Sue Whitehead


CELEBRATE began in Ilfracombe, Devon, on Easter Sunday in 1994, so 2014 is our twentieth anniversary! It all began in 1992 when the Lord convinced us that he wanted a conference which would provide spiritually for every age group, at which every individual would be valued within an atmosphere of friendship and close fellowship. Since then year after year we see around 1,500 people, of whom almost half are aged 22 years and below, attend the main Conference. Eight streams run for the children and younger teenagers from the ‘Sunbeams’ up to ‘The Pulse’, as well as Joel’s Bar for over 200 young adults and special sessions for those in their 20s and 30s alongside the main adult Conference. The week is packed with a rich variety of talks, seminars and workshops, as well as opportunities for quiet prayer in our special chapel, and our own radio station CELEBRATE FM carries the main talks, Christian music, interviews and news to the surrounding area and into every chalet. To build community and to complement the spiritual input, the days conclude with the Evening Fringe, a time for everyone to relax, socialise, dance, join the quizzes and family games in the friendly on-site John Fowler Centre, or simply enjoy a quiet drink. Part of the CELEBRATE Vision is also to encourage creative activities using drama, mime, art and music to illustrate and emphasise the Gospel message and to show our young people in particular that it’s exciting, fun and challenging to be a Christian today. It certainly isn’t boring! Sadly our Anniversary year clashes with the very early start of the school summer term on Easter Tuesday which makes it impossible for us to hold the usual Conference in 2014 in Ilfracombe, but we are delighted to be offering 11 CELEBRATE Weekends around the country, including the brand new CELEBRATE North East. So there will be plenty

of opportunities to celebrate our twenty years and we really hope you will be able to join us for at least one of them. All dates and details can be found on our website Each Weekend carries the CELEBRATE Vision and offers something for all the family in just the same way as the main conference in Ilfracombe. Why not come to a CELEBRATE Weekend and bring friends and members of your parish with you? I want to give the last word of welcome to my wife Sue, who received the Vision with me in 1992 and works hard to see its fulfilment, but before doing so let me draw your attention to another key part of our Vision Statement. We seek to “celebrate the Liturgy in the best possible way for the people present, and to offer the best available teaching based on the Scriptures and the teaching documents of the Catholic Church”. So Mass is celebrated daily and through the talks, workshops and seminars we help participants become more familiar with the Scriptures and to grow in an understanding of their faith. Over to Sue! My “last word” is to say that whilst CELEBRATE is a Catholic Conference, we are delighted to welcome brothers and sisters from other parts of the body of Christ both as participants and as contributors. As Charles and I are Catholic and Anglican we share the joys and challenges of an ecumenical marriage and walk with the Lord. We have so much to celebrate together and so much to learn from one other, that a particularly exciting part of CELEBRATE for us is the contribution from other Christians which is a very important part of the vision. Neither the Weekends nor the Conference are ours – CELEBRATE belongs to God and we willingly give him all the glory.



Sarah Goldsmith a member of the Celebrate leadership team reflects on the blessing of all generations coming together at Celebrate.

My first memory of Celebrate was as a six-year old – it was dark, freezing cold, the electricity cut out and the roof blew off, but there was some kind of glitter and tee-shirt making involved so that was ok! My sister Rachel’s first memory of Celebrate was presumably just very dark and quiet as she first came in Maureen, our Mum’s tum. As a family, we have grown up together at Celebrate, both in age and in relationship with the Lord. Speaking as a daughter and a sister, it is an incredible blessing to belong to a family where Christ and a celebration of faith sit right at the centre of our lives. The community and friendship we encounter at and from Celebrate has been irreplaceable – even to this day, I will be embraced by people who knew me when I was still running around at knee height, who have known me and deeply cared for me for years. Both my sister and I have been kids, teenagers and are now young adults here – I celebrated both my 18th and my 21st birthdays at Celebrate. We’d call

ourselves, along with a growing number of others, ‘Celebrate Babies’. Our physical and spiritual growth has been held, fed and loved by the different streams and ministries of Celebrate at every turn. I still remember the wild excitement and anticipation of FINALLY being old enough to join The Pulse (totally the coolest stream, in our humble teenage opinion). And after that, at long last, Joel’s Bar, the young adults stream.


For me and my fellow ‘Celebrate Babies’, the most direct and obvious blessing has been the children and youth streams, where we have received fantastic weeks of fun, teaching, all targeted right at our age group and life situation. These have been the places where we have received God’s love, been encouraged to live for him fully and had the relief at being in a place where it’s normal to think that Jesus is pretty awesome.


Now you would think as a young person that is the key, but that’s not just it. One of Celebrate’s biggest blessings is not that everyone is separated out into their various age groups, but that everyone is mixed together, the old and young, adults, teenagers and kids. There’s been an interesting teaching circulating recently – that in fully forming and discipling a youth in Church, we’ve got the ratios wrong. It shouldn’t be one youth worker with twenty children; it should be twenty adults with one child.


John’s Dad Damian, leading the healing ministry teams with John at his side, the Baker twins working alongside their Mum, Jenny, and all the rest piling in together irrespective of age and generational difference, with room for whoever else comes our way. Families are always going to be mildly embarrassing This can, on occasions, be excruciatingly embarrassing. More than once, I’ve had to flee the Main Hall as my Dad, Mike, has got up on stage in a sombrero/cowboy hat /tuxedo to promote what’s happening in the bar that night. Occasionally, I’ve had my revenge, although I believe it’s really my Mum who suffers the most!

Church, the Body of Christ, is entirely about family and family means every generation mixed together. At Celebrate, I encounter every year a host of spiritual fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, (great-)grandfathers and mothers, as well as my brothers and sisters, who love me and want to journey with me in Christ. This goes one step further. As we have become older in faith, it has become completely natural to step out in serving the Lord and others. At Celebrate, this hasn’t just been with our peers but with our families as well. In the vast majority of Western culture today, I think most young people couldn’t think of anything worse than being on a mic with your dad or being involved in prayer ministry with your mother, and yet here it’s completely normal to see Dad, Eamonn leading worship with his sons, Tom and Jack.

And yet despite the unavoidable embarrassments of family, there is something incredible about being in a place where actually everyone’s parents, grandparents, siblings and friends are doing something, building the kingdom together. Families are always going to be mildly embarrassing, but they can be awesome for the Lord while they’re at it. I’m going to guess that Heaven doesn’t have streams, or separates the youth from the geriatrics. I think it’s probably all just one big mix – so we might as well get practising down here!


PRAYER When we left Celebrate family conference in April 2013 with the conference theme, “For just such a time as this” ringing in my ears, I knew I had been strengthened to bring some of the uplifting support I had received back to my home parish, but what could I do?

I first attended the St Albans weekend conference in 2011 with my wife Kate and our three children. If faith is a journey that first Celebrate weekend was when I saw the next leg of my journey more clearly.

MY FAITH WAS MORE ABOUT RITUAL As a cradle Catholic growing up in a small town in the North West of England I dutifully did all the right things. I went to mass every Sunday, served on the altar and went to Catholic schools. I was even blessed to have had a Carmelite nun for an Auntie. But my faith was more about ritual and as a child I was ssh’d at rather than welcomed. I had a wonderful grounding in the history, traditions and community that the Church brings. What I didn’t do was explore what faith meant to me and how God was calling me.

We’ll be at all the Celebrate Conferences. See you there!

So Celebrate St Albans blew me away. Uplifting worship, inspiring speakers, family streams. The children loved it, we loved it and when I brought my mum next year she loved it too. Celebrate has this effect on you, it is so infectious to see people alive with the Spirit that you want to share it with everyone. So it seemed logical to go to the

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AND A PINT! Following Celebrate, David Wilkinson, a Dad from Hertfordshire, found he was challenged to take back something of what he had received to his parish.

main conference in Ilfracombe this year even though I worried that a week might be too intense for me. It wasn’t at all, it was enriching from the first minute to the last and incredibly supportive of our role as Catholic parents.

RELIGIOUS FANATIC? What also struck me was how wonderful it was to talk to people about my faith. To share the challenges of striving to raise our children in a faith filled way in our secular environment. I couldn’t

imagine having those conversations with people in my home parish, let alone at work, without worrying I come across as a religious fanatic. So how could I bring some of that support back to my home parish? Of course the Lord showed me

the way. The new Parish Priest was very supportive and I got to know a couple of other Dads and so, we set up a Dad’s Prayer Group. We have something of a mission statement, if that isn’t too corporate: we want to support and encourage Dads in the parish in their faith and in the challenges of raising our children in a faith filled way. We agreed to meet to pray together, study Scripture and to explore resources available such as the CaFE DVD’s, we each share our faith journey and then finally we go for a pint! Vitally important to refresh soul and body! I can honestly say that without Celebrate I certainly would not be sitting on a train writing about my faith. Without Celebrate I would probably not have joined a prayer group, let alone set one up. Having tried a little renewal in my parish, it feels good.


Over the years many of Celebrate’s young people who attend University have been President of their Catholic Societies. A few of the current members of CathSoc’s around the country speak about how Celebrate has influenced and prepared them for taking on this task. NAME: PHILIP ALTON UNIVERSITY: LIVERPOOL STUDIES: MEDICINE & SURGERY


Philip Alton from Liverpool University explains ‘I got involved with the CathSoc pretty soon after arriving, and discovered a great group of people who have become some of my closest friends. It’s not surprising really that I took to CathSoc so readily. Having been going to Celebrate since before I can remember, I was well equipped for university life. If we’re to meet God in others, we need to be used to meeting people, and sharing ourselves with them. Celebrate, where you meet old friends and new friends each year, is where you are guided, encouraged, and walked alongside in prayer – its perfect preparation. What we receive at Celebrate - ultimately is friendship: with God and with others - is at the heart of life to the full, and a perfect preparation for being a student, getting involved with CathSoc, and living a life which looks towards God.’

Julia Corcoran did two terms as President of Hull CathSoc and last year chaired NUCS (Northern University Catholic Society). Her society has achieved a lot and has won a gold award, the highest award a society can win in their union. ‘I could not have done any of it without trusting in God and the influence Celebrate has had on me. Through Celebrate I have seen examples of how leadership was done through serving rather than just through being bossy (although sometimes I’m very good at that) and therefore my aim was to replicate this leadership style within the society. Without the experiences, teaching and friendships made during Celebrate I’m not even sure I would have become President of Hull CathSoc let alone the massive changes we have made. I really feel that God put me in Hull for such a time as this.’




Ellen Ashbourne had been going to Celebrate for 13 years and it has helped her journey through the good and the bad while keeping her in touch with prayer. ‘The experience of Celebrate was very influential in my decision to join the chaplaincy. I quickly became involved, and enthusiastically joined the CathSoc as Events Coordinator. This has helped me to have a home away from home, and to have a strong sense of community. Sometimes being a Catholic at uni can feel a bit of a struggle but the chaplaincy has created a safe haven giving support and offering answers to tough questions. My experience of Celebrate has taught me the necessity of community and has helped me to bring leadership in this area. I do not want to waste the wisdom that has been passed on to us through places like Celebrate, but to be encouraged to branch out. As the wise Blessed Pope John Paul II said “The future starts today, not tomorrow”. I strive to be a meaningful part of the wonderful today that God has given me.’

The University of Nottingham CathSoc is a vibrant and active Christian community. Hugh Potter has no doubt that the formation received through many years attending Celebrate has allowed him and others who are involved to greatly impact the group. ‘Over the past year we have led praise and worship evenings; bringing the experiences of Celebrate’s ministry to the university campus. The society runs a number of other events including, regular; small groups, shared meals and apologetics talks. These events give a platform for us to share our faith, very often influenced by the teaching and worship received at Celebrate. The community offers mass three times a week on campus, and the music at the main Sunday mass is now led by me, playing a mass setting written by one of our young Celebrate worship leaders. You could walk into the chaplaincy hospitality room on campus and ask about Celebrate and I’m certain everyone would be able to tell you at least something about it, even though many haven’t even been, such is the testimony of those of us who have.’

NAME: HANNAH WOOD UNIVERSITY: BRISTOL STUDIES: MUSIC ‘The community that we have at Bristol is amazing, and the opportunity to grow in our faith together is exciting. What we receive from Celebrate has had a truly awesome effect on what’s going on in our CathSoc. I have grown up going to the weekend conferences in Southampton, but it wasn’t until this Easter that I had the opportunity of going to the week long conference in Ilfracombe, with a group of seven of us from Bristol. The experience we all had was incredible! As soon as we were back at Uni we knew we wanted to share with others, so we took a group to Cardiff Celebrate. We all came back fired up with the spirit! Since then a lot has happened in the Chaplaincy we meet for hour of communal prayer each day. This ranges from praying the Rosary, Lectio Divina, devotions to the Holy Spirit, to praise and worship. This all kicked off during the exam period, providing us all with a break in revision and a chance to remember whose strength we were doing everything through! We’ve already started organising a mega CathSoc trip to the Bristol Celebrate Conference in October, and we’re hoping to get loads of the fresher’s along, as well as the rest of the society. I cannot wait to see what treats the Spirit has in store!!’



Celebrate is not just for families and young people. Two ladies, aged 78 and 86, talk about their first experience of attending the conference and the difference it has made to their lives. ‘It was advertised in the parish newsletter and our priest was encouraging us to go along to the first regional weekend in Cardiff. To be honest’, said Pam Hawks 78 years of age and a widow for many years, ‘We were apprehensive and a bit sarcastic about the charismatic element of the conference. My friend Evelyn Ward (86 years) and I thought it would be a bit of a laugh. We decided we would go just for a short time on the Saturday, little did we think we would end up going for the whole 2 days and then each year since!’ Evelyn explained, ‘What struck us straight away was the music; there was a spontaneous unity that took you into the presence of God. Through the singing you could sense people really believed the words, there was an expectancy that God was there’. But the most important part of the weekend for her was during the prayer ministry time ‘I had never experienced someone praying for me and it introduced me to the Holy Spirit and a new peace and joy. After 86 years I have received a different outlook! I am truthfully more at peace within myself; it’s amazing, even with having to deal with illness and bereavement.’ Following Celebrate

the two ladies went on to join the parish prayer group that meets every Sunday. Pam explained that it was the prayer ministry time which had transformed her life. ‘I had been so comfortable with my religion and daily going along ticking the right boxes, then through Celebrate God called me out of the box! My understanding of faith now is so different, it is a personal encounter, walking with Jesus, it is no longer a duty.’ She says ‘I have never been so happy despite suffering from a recent illness. The wonderful thing is that you are never too old for God to take you to different places with Him!’

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Worship has many different expressions. We immediately think of music, song, the liturgy, drama, mime, dance – all of which we experience at Celebrate events. When we worship God we bring everything we are and have into that special time - we hold nothing back. So this must include our time, gifts, possessions, work, relationships and our finances. At the Celebrate Conferences and Weekends we always take up an offering for specific areas of the Lord’s work and we carefully explain what these are and how the money will be used. We see this as an important part of our worship and this is why we speak of an offering, not just collection.

Hannah Zafar

Thanks to so many peoples’ obedient responses to the Lord’s prompting, we have been able to give away almost £750,000 from our Celebrate offerings during the last twenty years – money which has trained and formed large numbers of young people, helped communities and special ministries grow and develop, provided funds for further education, brought relief and help through CAFOD and allowed us to support bodies that share our vision for the renewal of the Church in the power of the Spirit. One of those young people is Hannah Zafar who had been working in full time youth ministry in a Catholic parish in Leeds for a number of years. Her involvement with the Charismatic Renewal had also given her the opportunity to lead worship in prayer groups, conferences (including Celebrate) and pilgrimages. Through this her desire for evangelisation and renewal in the Church has grown deeper. She explained, ‘I felt the need to make a greater commitment to my own formation and prayer. I wanted to know more about the faith so I could defend it with authority and clarity. This is what led me to the Emmanuel School for Mission, which Celebrate helped to fund. The ESM is a nine month course, run by the Emmanuel Community in Rome. It is an intensive programme of community living, prayer, study and mission work, designed to better equip young adults. Through the community life and prayer, study of Scripture, Church teaching, the liturgy and pastoral and moral theology I deepened my intellectual grounding in the faith. We had regular opportunities for mission, three ten-day parish missions across Europe, and weekly street evangelism work in Rome. I have been enriched by my experience, able to serve Him more faithfully, responsibly and whole-heartedly.’ In 2013 Celebrate has helped towards funding for two further young people to go and study at the ESM in Rome. If you feel called to provide regular support for the various ways Celebrate is helping the education and training of young people and encouraging new life in the Holy Spirit, we invite you to become a FRIEND OF CELEBRATE by filling in the enclosed form or by emailing our Chairman, Charles Whitehead, at



Book A LITTLE BOY’S VIEW OF WHAT CELEBRATE MEANS TO HIM. Since before he was born, Benjamin’s Mum and Dad have been coming to Celebrate in Ilfracombe along with both Grannies. This year his Mum Jenny brought with her a beautiful book that Benjamin had produced which says so much about what so many children feel about their experience of this family Easter conference. Jenny explained, ‘Benjamin who is 7 years old, and only just showing an interest in writing, recently had the topic of holidays at school, and of his own

accord one evening (not homework), cut up the Celebrate brochure and made a Celebrate book! Benjamin’s book was made spontaneously from the brochure when at granny’s house one evening, and then he took it into school the next day as they had been talking about holidays. It’s amazing what they remember from their experiences. The book had been written nearly a year on from having been to Celebrate!

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Start Front Page “We love Celebrate!”.

Page 1 “In the Church”:

“At Celebrate we do lots of activertys in are groops. And I love it so much! And I love the church.”

Page 2 “I love Celebrate”

Page 3 “In the School”: “ When we go to our groops in the morning I am always so ecsited because we

do so manny activertys, and even pupet shows.” Page 4 “I love Celebrate!”

Page 5 “Swimming In The Pool” : In the swimming

pool we have lots of fun! And in the swimming pool it is very deep”

Page 7 “I love Celebrate! Hossanna! And I love it when my

granny pretends to be the Easter bunny”

Page 8 “And I love it in our cottage eating chocolate



Page 9 “I love Ce


e. I love Celebrate! All done by Benjamin”

Page 11 “Celebrat


We feel Celebrate is invaluable to our children; it is a place where they (and we!) are allowed to be themselves, to share their faith and to see others enthusiastic for their faith. They get to see puppet shows, take part in acting, learn new songs with actions (which get sung all year round afterwards!), do crafts and games, and have special prayer times. It is great for them to experience their faith in such culturally relevant ways and to deepen their relationship with Jesus. It is so important that our children experience the real gift of faith in a way that meets their needs.The teaching has been invaluable and has built real foundations for our faith, and our marriage and family life. There is

Page 6 “I love Celebrate”

a real sense of community and Church in the broadest sense at Celebrate, and it is always encouraging to meet with other families for whom their faith is important and to share the highs and lows of family life as we journey together and learn from each other. We have made many friendships over the years which have been ongoing and have a real depth and understanding to them.

This year our Parish Priest came with us to Celebrate for the first time, and he said afterwards that he would like to go again which we are delighted about!’




Each year Celebrate follows a biblical theme. For 2013 the passage was ‘For just such a time as this’ Esther 4:14 (NLT). From the main stage and in the workshops Jenny Baker, Celebrate’s Regional Coordinator, explored one of the faith issues of today.

When one of our daughters following university decided that she wanted to work within the business world, we encouraged her feeling this was the right decision and that God would use her wherever he planted her. However this decision had an interesting reaction from one or two of her committed Christian friends. They expressed that as she had so much to offer the Church that she should use her talents within youth ministry or join one of the communities; this fleetingly caused her some anxiety while she spent more time soul searching. Of course, for many this is a great thing to do, but in her case she decided to follow her first thought and ended up working within advertising. I found this scenario interesting, as it seemed that for some her decision to work in industry would separate her from her faith and the call to witness. But surely we need to be everywhere… Mark Greene of The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity says ‘Life is a peach and not an orange’ in other words, our faith and everyday work, rest, play, families, business, sport, TV watching, pub drinking, food eating…. is all one, and what we must not do is live our lives like an orange, segmenting each area and never the twain shall meet! Being an ‘orange’, I discovered, is something the Church also recognises as not fruitful! “The Second Vatican Council sees the separation of Christian faith and daily life as one of the most serious errors of our day.” Gaudium et Spes 43 (The Church in the modern world).

WE DON’T KNOW THE NAMES OF OUR NEIGHBOURS In the 21st century western world our lives are fragmented and are far more insular than they used to be, even with the vast boom of communication. We don’t experience community as we did, often our towns are busy, noisy, crammed with loads of people yet we don’t know the names of our neighbours a few doors down. Nowadays it’s not unusual to travel further to work, school, university and to live further from our relatives and friends.


.. & NOT AN ORANGE Many more people are working from home than ever before, so the old office camaraderie and relationship building is scarce. We work freelance, do internships which are temporary and short term, none of which encourage making lasting friendships for the future. We juggle life, it’s busy and pressurised.

so-called ‘spiritual’ life, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture” Christifidelis Laici, 59. For just such a time as this our faith should permeate, enrich and engage all areas of our life. This is the challenge and the call. As Christians we are not outside of our society looking in, we have to be inside looking out. We are like fish: we don’t just look at the water, we live in it. We are “immersed in the mystery of God and inserted into society.” (Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church 545).

A PEACH-LIKE LIFE; LIFE TO THE FULL I was skimming through a woman’s magazine the other day and an article caught my eye encouraging the reader to develop a balanced life style, time at work, time with family, leisure time (and for us Christians we would add in time with God) but this got me thinking how biblical is this? Jesus surely didn’t live a balanced life style, he didn’t compartmentalise his life but brought His Father into all he did, living in the power of the Holy Spirit. He led a life of wholeness, a peach-like life; life to the full!

So how immersed and inserted are we? How integrated is our faith into our everyday activities of life, after all we believe that we are temples of the Holy Spirit which means we carry him wherever we go. So how do I fare when I have to speak up in the office canteen, in the staff room, when I have been cut up by the boy racer on a roundabout?


So not only does our modern lifestyle encourage us to balance and segment our activities but if you walk into a bookshop and look under the section for Religion you would be likely to come across a book entitled ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’ (or something similar). So at a time such as this, even our beings are divided and separated.

In our world today the cry for authenticity is louder than ever, over the last few years we have all been disappointed by hypocrisy in so many areas, within the lives of the press, politicians, the police, and even priests. I am one of many who will regularly complain about those who tell you one thing and then do another. But the challenge for me and maybe one or two of you, is am I really any better? How authentic is my faith within my day to day life, do I preach what I practice, do I live as a peach or an orange?

In the Church’s letter to the lay faithful we are told “there cannot be two parallel lives in existence: on the one hand, the


MEET THE PARENTS Often we hear that parents have to drag their children to Church events but Callum McMillan was keen to invite his parents to join him at Celebrate!

me he was ‘touched’ to be involved. Both Lizzie and my Dad appreciated that much of the main talks and many of the seminars were universal in content, and just as applicable to them as Catholics either side of them. During this year I have been taking part in Celebrates Young Leaders Initiative - Release, and I got to surprise my parents by appearing on stage on the first evening; they didn’t have any idea I would be up in front of them and hundreds of others, and it came as quite a shock! This was a good start to the week as various people then recognised them as ‘the parents’ that had been called out on the first evening.

Going first to Bristol Celebrate in 2011 and then the main conference in Devon 2012 had a significant impact upon my faith, so much so that I was keen to share my new experience with those closest and dearest to me, my family. As soon as the 2013 conference brochures were made available I shared them with my parents, Moly & Fran, my brother Andy and his wife Lizzie. Although my parents had not attended a charismatic event before they all could see how excited I was about the prospect of having them join me and so it proved quite an easy sell! To be honest I held some private reservations as to how they might take to the contemporary music or indeed to displays of the charismatic gifts, but I was convinced that God wouldn’t scare them away or give cause for them to be made uncomfortable.

SURPRISED AT THE RELAXED ATMOSPHERE My parents were surprised at the relaxed atmosphere they encountered, in the past they had been wary of taking time off of work only to then run around lots of seminars and talks, ending up more tired than when they started. But this was not the case; they were at ease to participate in what they wanted to, and made use of Celebrate Radio which makes all the main stage talks available to listen to in the chalets. One of the best things for me during the week was that it was great to be with my family and talk about our faith, our beliefs and what we could expect from Charismatic Renewal and ecumenism amongst many other things. Since returning from the conference my Mum and I have been constantly scheming to get my aunts, uncles and cousins to the various regional Celebrate conferences!

CELEBRATE IS PROUD OF ITS ECUMENISM I knew that Celebrate is proud of its ecumenism so I was not worried about Dad and Andy’s wife Lizzie being left out or excluded as they come from different Church traditions. This point was proven more deeply when Dad was asked to minister communion during the Anglican Eucharist which is celebrated on one of the afternoons. He later told


OUTSIDE IN! Sr. Catherine came not quite knowing what to expect of a Catholic Charismatic Conference down on the south coast of England. She shares her unexpected thoughts on what she encountered. *I do not identify myself as a member of the Charismatic Renewal, so my participation in Celebrate 2013 was as an outsider. However, the term “outsider” is something of a misnomer since from the moment I arrived the Celebrate family welcomed me with open arms. In fact, I would argue that this welcome to me and to others new to Celebrate is one of many verifications of their authenticity. Another is their great love for the Church. The liturgical celebrations were authentic celebrations of the Catholic faith - rich in praise and community, but centred on the sacrifice of Christ re-presented at each Mass.’ Having chatted in the evening in the bar with the wide ranging age groups of people sitting at tables discussing the day’s events and sharing a drink, Sr Catherine commented. ‘Perhaps the most striking element of Celebrate was the reality of family. While many religious conferences focus on specific age groups (the US run many just for youth or just for adults), where here Celebrate offers something unique for the entire family. I must admit, when I first read through the programme booklet, I didn’t quite understand references to “Heroes,” “Sparklers,” and “Little Lights,” let alone comprehend how “Joel’s Bar” would fit into such a conference. Eventually, however, it all began to make sense as I saw the different children’s stream groups take part in their own unique way in the conference. For me most impressive was the last group - that of Joel’s Bar. To see youth in their late teens and early twenties, not only meeting together on their own, but assisting with the younger children, participating in the music and liturgy, or just socializing as a part of a larger family, was quite impressive, especially today. In the midst of nefarious attacks on family, Celebrate offers a welcome light not only to the Church in England, but to those of us beyond as well.


Sr Catherine Joseph Droste, O.P. is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation from Nashville, Tennessee. She currently teaches in the Angelicum University in Rome. Sr Catherine was one of this year’s guest speakers at Celebrate in Devon teaching on St Catherine of Sienna and the beauty of faith.


RELEASED Joe Gulliford who was part of Celebrates first Young Leaders ‘Release’ initiative writes about the impact it had on him and hears from some of the newly Released!

The Release initiative began in 2010 as an investment into Celebrate’s young adults; to train them and ready them for ministry and service not simply at Celebrate but across the Catholic Church. Now, more than two years later, we can recognise its fruits in the ministries of those who took part, stretching from serving at Celebrate streams at both the main conference and weekends to other conferences and initiatives at home and abroad. The impact of Release has been more, however, than simply guiding the younger generation into ministry, for it has equally seen a transformation in the lives of those involved and their purpose in life. It included a number of training weekends where this young community came together to pray, discern and receive, guided by guest speakers and members of the Celebrate team.

We were strengthened, renewed, affirmed in our unique callings, we had been ‘released’, for we had journeyed together and been given expectation of the opportunity that lay ahead. We had been supported by our role models and teachers, those carrying the baton of faith forward and they were pleased to give us such a blessing, so that we would be ready to receive that baton and then in time hand it on ourselves. Then following our ‘release’ a second group of young leaders started on Release2!

RELEASE2 Over this last year, there has been training given at four different events including Worth Abbey, Sussex. Among the guest speakers were Pete Wynter from One Life and Matt Van Duyvenbode from The Bible Society, not to mention familiar faces like our very own Fr Paul Keane, the Joel’s Bar chaplain. Release has provided a community environment with a strong support network, allowing the group to continue to pray and encourage each other through social media and accountability partnerships. This really helped some of the group to initiate new projects within their own community. Fran O’Neill tells us, ‘I was struck by the need to start a prayer group at my uni (I’d really felt there was a need for something during my first year but was waiting for someone else to put it in front of me... God had other ideas) so with a lot of support from different Release people I started the prayer group ‘Vine’ and it’s now a recognised society within uni... happy days! Starting and running it myself was never ever something I thought I’d be able to do but Release really empowered me and not only through prayer and encouragement but with practical elements too.’ Sam Wells explains, ‘What Release has done is show me that you can really study leadership; how other people lead and like to be led. Before, I perceived leadership as an innate attribute that some people have and some people don’t. Having done the Myers Briggs test and Love Languages session, I learnt to understand leadership on a more intellectual level. My first year at university provided me with the

opportunity to become Chair of my Hall, leading 19 other students. Release has helped me to do this to the best of my ability, along with organising some of the best socials of the year!’ Another member of Release2 Mike Fenn highlighted the importance of fellowship, ‘Initially, I held some reservations about integrating into the group because I didn’t know the others. These concerns proved unnecessary as I was welcomed in by so many generous individuals so that by the end of the course I can say I found true fellowship amongst everyone. The times of prayer during the weekends was very powerful, through others intercession a love of Scripture has been awakened in me which I hope and pray will continue to grow. Overall, I would say that the time spent with Release was very profitable; through serving at the Celebrate this Easter, it was incredibly empowering and affirming in the calling to holiness and mission.’

A NEW FAMILY WAS EMERGING This time of formation is a very special time, with the group connecting more strongly with every event. This is something that has really carried through from Release1; relationships possessed a pivotal role in the affirmation and discernment of each person, it was as if a new family was emerging and embracing the coming challenges of leadership and ministry together. My personal experience of Release has allowed me to be confident in my own gifts and calling into leadership. It equipped me with, not simply the practical elements of leadership and its challenges, but with the opportunity to step forward truly affirmed and eager to spread God’s kingdom, to grow in my personal relationship with Jesus, and become more like the person I have been made to be. It has been God’s tool to captivate me passionately within His will. May He continue to bear fruit in us all.

Applications for Release3 will be available from Easter 2015.



For those who do not venture much to North East Lincolnshire, Cleethorpes might, at first, seem an unusual place to run a Celebrate regional family weekend. But, for Rick and Tara Jones, spurred on by Rick’s mother Cath, their faith remained resolute that it is “for such a time as this” they had been called to organise the first Celebrate weekend in the Diocese of Nottingham. And what better affirmation could the Cleethorpes team have than from their Bishop, Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, who from the very first moments the plans were mooted, gave his full support. A frequent participant at the Easter week Celebrate Conference in Ilfracombe, the Bishop wrote, “Celebrate is something all Catholics would enjoy and feel spiritually and physically re-created.”


Cleethorpes is a town situated on the estuary of the Humber with a population of 32,000 and is a seaside resort. Like many of the smaller seaside resorts, Cleethorpes had been struggling to survive with a higher than average unemployment rate in the region. But, with new regeneration projects coming to fruition, a growing number of people are beginning to have confidence again in Cleethorpes’ future – including the local Celebrate team.











As we discovered for ourselves on the last weekend of April, Cleethorpes, in fact, is an ideal place for a Celebrate family weekend. It has a fascinating history, with many and varied facilities for a memorable family holiday. The larger town of Grimsby is only a few miles down the coast with its additional facilities, but Cleethorpes has its own hotels, bed and breakfasts, and caravan parks within easy reach of the venue for Celebrate Cleethorpes. And so it was with great expectation that just over two hundred participants descended on The Holy Family Catholic Academy (formerly St Andrew’s College), where a team of nearly seventy people were ready and waiting having transformed the College into a Conference Centre overnight.


In 2014 eleven regional Celebrate weekends will take place throughout England and Wales, a few in locations which at first may come as a surprise. Fr Jonathan Cotton, chaplain of Celebrate Cleethorpes, speaks about running the weekend in an area where 43% of the population is unemployed.

While the adults enjoyed presentations on conference theme by the main speakers, Esther 4:14, “for such a time as this’’, the fifty five children spread themselves out around the various children’s streams appropriately named, and with some humour, Tadpoles [the babies and little ones], Little Fishes [ages 3-7], Water Walkers [ages 7-11], Fishers of Men [ages 11-15], Andy’s Catch [ages 16-22]. These were staffed with experienced ministry teams from around the country. In between the main programmes, there was a Market Place with shops and displays and wonderful local

hospitality. As somebody wrote afterwards, “Fantastic hospitality, the real giving of the ladies in the kitchen on teas/coffees/cakes!” On the first day, we were all treated to traditional fish and chips prepared by a local supplier. The team were really pleased with the interest and support shown by the local Churches Together Group who helped with advertising, some coming to the weekend and promising further

involvement in the future. For the local Catholic parish in Cleethorpes this was a weekend with a difference and they were not sure what to expect. Not every parish is used to international speakers, lively music and praise, combined with a relaxed style of worship typical of a Celebrate experience. The weekend endeavoured to give everyone the freedom to be fully charismatic, with space for the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, while also remaining sensitive to those not coming from this faith experience. Did the Celebrate Cleethorpes team get it right? It looks as if they did, judging by comments like: “The weekend was a time when my mind was opened up and I became more aware of the Holy Spirit working in my life.” And, “Thoroughly enjoyed it. Physically, mentally and spiritually renewed. My faith has increased.” And “..a life changing experience.” The local Parish Priest, Fr. James Early, spoke of the “Wow Factor”. It was his first experience of Celebrate. “It’s the most exciting event we have had up here for some time. We look forward to the next year.” So, not only are there good things in Cleethorpes, but seeds of a new spiritual regeneration are beginning to be sown through Celebrate Cleethorpes. Come and join us next time.


For details of all the Celebrate regional weekends for 2014 see the back page of the magazine or



Yvonne Bell has been producing the huge, colourful, banners for Celebrate since the very first conference in 1994. Her banners are full of prayer and meaning and are designed to break open the conference theme to encourage worship and contemplation. Yvonne, an Anglican who has attended the conference in Devon since its second year, credits Celebrate with the exciting journey God has taken her on. ‘I attended the Life in the Spirit seminars the first time I went to Celebrate and there started an adventure with the Holy Spirit which has been a steep learning curve ever since – both artistically and spiritually.’ She has produced a total of thirteen banners over the years and speaks beautifully of the process of her design. ‘When painting something religious I had to learn what to ask for from God and how to interpret the answers. I know now from experience that the words or images must already be in my mind however subconsciously. We are taught as Iconographers, to talk to the people we are painting, so when I paint Christ the eyes get painted first so that He can see me while I paint Him. When I was phoned last autumn and asked me to come up with some potential designs for the 2013 banner I offered the title “For just such a time as this” up to God and waited. Almost immediately an image popped into my mind. It was a book cover I had glanced in a magazine some months previously – a kneeling woman holding a picture –

only what I saw was Christ holding the world. During the summer I had run the art gallery at New Wine, an evangelical conference, and one of the pieces of artwork in the gallery was a photo of a dandelion head with one seed head being blown away. This said “Time” to me and is on the banner at Christ’s knee as he kneels on the ground. The background is bare and only the heavens visible, no other life on the ground. Christ is holding the world full of people; he kneels outside time and space, looks down with love and tenderness on the world he holds. I live with all my paintings for a while before I can hand them over – I must be ready to let them go. They are all blessings because I get to sit with God as I create them. I hung the banner in my church for Lent so that I could get used to it, and on the third week, I glanced up suddenly from looking down and he was looking at me – deep into my soul. That was a shock. I hadn’t expected that. It was just for a split second but I can still feel the depth of that look.’ Postcards and posters of this design are available to purchase at the Celebrate weekends.


THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND ACTIVE! Msgr Tony Rogers, a parish priest of the East Anglia diocese, talks about his experience of attending the launch of the Celebrate regional weekend. When I was asked to come and preside at the ‘Celebrate’ Sunday Mass in Bury St Edmunds, I knew that there were no grounds for refusal. So, I hope I came willingly, albeit with some apprehension. Would I be the wooden, uptight figure, afraid to be myself in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings? Happily, within moments of arriving, fears were scattered, and everything seemed right. The first people who greeted me were children from a family in the last parish in which I had worked. And they were clearly totally immersed. It was their family’s first experience. They’d moved out of their own comfort zone precisely because it was ‘The Year of Faith’ – a challenge to grow and not be afraid to do something new. And from the eldest – a teenager who said she’d wondered whether there would be anyone of her age there – to the youngest, clearly there was positive and joyful provision.

spontaneity, it had to be, and it felt just right. There were so many faces I recognised from around the diocese of which I have been a part for a long time – some I had presumed would be there, but many others would not have been listed among the usual suspects.

I was struck by the total inclusivity of the Mass – all ages, all types, all equally at home. With uplifting music, prayerful silence, a refreshing

The Holy Spirit is clearly alive and active – penetrating like a two-edged sword where we least expect!

What can I say? I’m delighted to have been there, and would be delighted to go again. The faith and conviction of the organisers and their team, was so infectious, that it not only paid dividends, but ensured that the first tentative venture in the diocese is clearly set to grow and flourish.




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Mary Matthews was born on the Shankill Road, a Protestant stronghold in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She was raised as an Anglican evangelical and married David who at the time was an evangelical minister. Their families were strongly Loyalist with a history in the Orange Order. They never mixed with Roman Catholics. In fact they were not convinced that Catholics were genuine Christians! They lived in the city of Belfast in the1970’s at the height of the troubles where shootings and bombing were daily occurrences. Mary explains ‘Rioting in the city escalated and rubber bullets and tear gas began to be used by the army on people who were using petrol and nail bombs against them. My mother’s home was in the firing line between the IRA and the British Army. On one occasion we found the front door riddled with bullet holes and a spent bullet on the kitchen chair. It had been fired through the lounge window then passed through the dividing wall between the lounge and the kitchen. It was only by the grace of God that no one was there.’ Mary and David experienced violence, fear, and the loss of loved ones. With this as the backdrop to their lives God used them powerfully in the midst of all the chaos to set up the first house-church in Ireland which met in their home and brought others into the experience of Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

ECUMENICAL ADVENTURE They grew as a little community, praying, worshiping and listening to God. Through prayer the Lord spoke to David and to his surprise told them to ‘cross the divide’ between Protestants and Roman Catholics in the middle of a sectarian civil war! In obedience they began to attend joint charismatic meetings. Mary says, ‘It was a huge step for me coming from my Ulster protestant background but God was on the move. We discovered there were so many things we had in common. I found the secret of fellowship was to emphasise the truths and practices that united us and to agree to differ about the others.’ They persevered in unity through the midst of the bombs and the bullets, and the ‘Belfast Christian Family’ was born, two thirds protestant and one third Roman Catholic. As the years have gone by, with a move and a life in England, Mary and David have been on an ecumenical adventure in the heart of the Charismatic Renewal which led them to the Celebrate Catholic Conference. ‘My first experience of Celebrate was about twelve years ago. My husband David was invited as one of the main speakers. He had been many times before and

this time I wanted to go along as well to see what it was like. I was quite nervous going into the big hall for the first time. I had never been to an event organised by Catholics but I was bowled over by the enthusiastic praise and depth of worship taking us into the Presence of God. I also found that for the most part we were all singing the same songs and felt right at home just as I had been in many other non-Catholic conferences I had been to. Coming from my Protestant Charismatic background what I have found in sharing fellowship with my Catholic brothers and sisters is that we are all one in Christ. It has been the greatest joy to have involvement in a conference that although is Catholic has an ecumenical heart!’ Mary’s story can be read in full in her book ‘In the Valley’ available through




In 1967 the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) burst into the life of an unsuspecting Catholic Church which was only just starting to implement some of the changes of the Second Vatican Council. From small beginnings among a handful of students at Duquesne university in the United States, who experienced a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit, this fire of the Spirit has now touched the lives of millions of people all over the world. It was and remains unlike any other movement in the Church, for there is no inspired human founder and no common programmes of initiation or formation. It is simply, powerfully and uniquely a sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit, whereby he responds to the prayers of individual men and women, fills them with a new supernatural power, brings their faith alive in new ways with a love and zeal to serve him and his people, thereby bringing new life into his Church.

120 MILLION CATHOLICS IN CCR The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has changed the lives of over 120 million Catholics since 1967, including cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, religious sisters and so many lay people. In the words of the late Belgian Cardinal, Leon Josef Suenens, one of the architects of the Second Vatican Council: “To interpret the Renewal as a movement among other movements is to misunderstand its nature; it is a movement of the Spirit offered to the entire Church and destined to rejuvenate every part of the Church’s life. The soul of Renewal – Baptism

in the Spirit – is a grace of Pentecostal refreshment offered to all Christians” (from Goodnews Magazine, special issue April 1992).

POPE FRANCIS: ‘I WAS CONVERTED’ Unexpected, unplanned and even uncomfortable for many people, the Charismatic Renewal was soon recognised in Rome as a work of the Holy Spirit, producing good fruit in the rich soil provided by Vatican II. It brings nothing new to the Church, but simply reveals what she already possesses. From the early days, successive Popes welcomed the CCR as a new opportunity for the Church and the world. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have all supported, pastored and encouraged it to take its place at the heart of the life of the Church. But not everyone has understood and supported it. There are many lay people as well as priests and bishops who want the Church to be a safe, unchanging haven, a refuge from all the new things the world is throwing at us. The unexpected, unpredictable and sovereign action of the Holy Spirit fills them with fear and unease; it’s outside their experience - God should not do unusual things like this. So they view the CCR with suspicion and even hostility, failing to see the transformed lives and the good fruit it produces, and even denouncing it as not authentically Catholic. Pope Francis spoke to journalists on his flight from Brazil after World Youth Day: “In the late 70s and the early 80s I was not keen on the Charismatic Renewal. One time I said that they



confused a liturgical celebration with a Samba dance school! But when I got to know them better I was converted. I saw the good they do and every year in the Cathedral in Buenos Aires I celebrated Mass with them. They are a grace of the Spirit and do much good for the Church, which is renewed”.

For all information on dates and to download booking forms see Celebrate’s main conference in Ilfracombe Devon will run in 2015 for one week from Easter Sunday evening until the following Saturday.

At the heart of the CCR is Baptism in the Holy Spirit – a moment of complete surrender to God when the graces of our sacramental baptism and confirmation become alive, and when we also receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit to equip us and build up the Church. It requires us to say an unreserved YES to God in a deep and powerful way; YES to who he is and to all that he has done for us; YES to all that he wants to give us; YES and Welcome to the life-changing, in-dwelling Holy Spirit; YES to his will and NO to our own selfish desires. This is Baptism in the Holy Spirit, freely available to all who are willing to step out.













The CELEBRATE Conference and Weekends are good examples of ways the CCR is serving the Church. Those who organise and serve at CELEBRATE have experienced the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit and have been called by God to give freely of their time, gifts and energy for the benefit and blessing of others. At CELEBRATE no participant is pressurised into doing anything they don’t feel comfortable doing – free will is one of God’s greatest gifts and this is fully respected. But there will always be opportunities for teaching on surrendering to the Holy Spirit and his gifts, and personal prayer is available for anyone who would like this.


Jenny Baker

Managing Editor Charles Whitehead


Tom Pugh // Arch Records Charlotte Stevens


Transform Management Ltd

Celebrate photographs

Shot with Spirit Our thanks to all contributors and those we didn’t have room for.

So my prayer will always be that you, like millions before you all over the world, will open your heart in a new way to the Holy Spirit, so that he can bless, encourage and help you to live your life more effectively in his love and power, to the glory of God the Father. Charles Whitehead - Celebrate Chairman

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Mini Mag 2014  

Mini Mag 2014