Working with our young people in Dunkeld Diocese

Since my appointment as the Director of Youth Formation in Dunkeld Diocese, I have settled down to work in the office. Every Tuesday and Wednesday between 11am and 4pm are the official hours I am in the Youth office at the Diocesan Centre, Dundee. I am happy to work with the Diocesan Youth Commission made up of some young, vibrant and dedicated young people.

Their zeal and commitment gives me the confidence that they have what it takes to animate the Youth ministry in the diocese. We have had meetings and are planning for some programmes which are already being publicized in our parishes and schools. Also some of our past events have been reviewed as are mentioned in this message.

Our Advent Youth retreat comes up between Friday 8th and Sunday 10th of December, 2017. The theme is “Prepare the Way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3) We have sent posters and forms to the parishes, but these can also be downloaded on our website www.dunkeldyouth.org.uk.

The Diocesan Youth Music Animation Team (DYMAT) led by our dear Misia Paul has commenced rehearsals in preparation for the retreat. If you play any musical instrument or are interested in singing and would like to join us, please visit our website for details.

You can keep up to date with events and activities on our social media platforms, follow us on our twitter handle @RCDunkeld_Youth, like our Instagram page: dunkeld_youth_service and join us on Facebook: dunkeld youth service. I would like to express our appreciation to Bishop Stephen, our parish priests and parents for their spiritual, financial and moral support.

With your assistance, we have been able to organize programmes and trips that help deepen our faith and enhance our integral formation. The great patron of the youth, Saint John Bosco once said “it’s not enough to love people have to feel that they are loved.” This is how you make us feel, that we are loved by you. We are grateful.

Shortly before I took up my new role with the young people of Dunkeld, some of our youths, led by Frankie McGuire, travelled to the Netherlands to attend the Lifeteen camp event. It was a wonderful experience for them and some have decided to write about it. I hope you will enjoy reading how this event has made significant impact in their lives.

We look forward to going on more of such pilgrimages that would inspire and edify us. May I also appreciate our young people, and in particular those who filled in the online questionnaire in preparation for the next synod on youth scheduled for October 2018 in Rome.

The theme of the synod, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”, chosen by Pope Francis shows we have a special and important role to play in the Church and in our society. We pray for the Synod fathers and all would be participants at the synod, that based on our responses and guided by the Holy Spirit, they will emerge with suitable pastoral initiatives that will aid our growth towards Christian maturity and enable us fulfill our role in the world.

I encourage our young people in parishes and schools to key into our programmes and also come forward with ideas that will help us build a dynamic youth ministry in the diocese. I shall also be establishing contact with our parishes and schools to see how we can mutually achieve this wonderful task.

Thank you for your time and please keep praying for and encouraging our young people.

Fr Samuel Alabi, MSP Dunkled’s Director of Youth Formation


Reports from Teen Camp – Netherlands – 2017

The European Life Teen Summer Camp 2017 took place in the Emmaus Retreat Centre, Helvoirt, Netherlands from 7th-12th August 2017. It was open for 12-19 year olds from various different countries, and was a week of fun, faith and new faces. The theme for the week was “Unfinished”, and this year was the 10th anniversary of the camp. Life Teen was a really good experience. It was my first time doing a camp like that and I thought it was wonderful. Life Teen gave me the chance to do different things and as we weren’t allowed to use technology much I was really able to focus on my time that I had with God. As we had to share rooms with people from other groups it was a really good chance to mix in with other girls and form friendships with them. All of the staff were so friendly and welcoming and are really good at what they do and the Netherlands is such a beautiful setting. The activities were really different and creative I personally loved the rosary walk and the adventure day we had. I did things I would never dream of doing (and didn’t think I could do) but my team were wonderful. I also got the chance to bond with my small group and we had some wonderful conversations it was amazing to band together the way we did and talk through issues. It was great to embrace some Dutch culture and I got to spend a week with people I really love and value. I would recommend the camp to anyone and I can’t wait to go back!!!!

Lauren Quinn

The Life Teen Summer Camp 2017 was truly an amazing experience. The whole week was full of fun from start to finish, but there was still time for serious reflection, prayer and teaching about our faith, through stories and testimonies of many there, as well as small group discussions and quiet reflection times. It was also a great way to experience different cultures, as there were so many different countries represented within the people there. There were team building activities to get to know people and to form lasting friendships, and many opportunities for free time to mingle together. As well as all the themed and team building activities, there were also opportunities to celebrate everyone’s culture, with “About Our Country” presentations and a talent show at the end of the week. Everyone there was so warm, welcoming and supportive; there was a real sense of “family” that I have only ever experienced at similar events. I would 100% go again, and I encourage anyone else who might be interested to do so too – there is something for everyone and it’s just an all-around enriching and growth experience.

Charis McCrosson

This Summer was the first time that I got to go to Life Teen Camp. It is a Catholic Summer camp for teenagers based in the Netherlands where young people from all over the world come to learn more about their Catholic faith. At first, I wasn’t at all convinced about going but it sounded very intriguing. My older sister was going anyway, and her excitement was contagious, so in the end my curiosity got the better of me. Having a chance to learn more about my faith – as well as not having any parents in tow was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse! I was bouncing around when I heard there were ‘no parents’ as I felt I could be more responsible and independent. I admit, there were a few moments of panic at the airport where I nearly turned and bolted back to the car. However, my sense of adventure, as well as the thought of warmer weather, and the fact that our group leader was physically shepherding us through security at speed, was enough to get me on the plane. The programme was very structured, but there was still free time to mingle with people and get to know them. Although there were quiet prayerful sessions together with teaching, discussions about faith and various workshops, there were also plenty of ‘team-building’ activities everyday so we could get to know each other. Tuning in to the different accents was hard at first however by the end of the week I had a fluent American accent. I made some really good friends. I was surprised when I realised that Catholic friends are very different to my school friends. It was much easier to talk with other Catholics my own age because we share the same faith and values and our family lives are actually very similar. It was easier to be myself and conversations tended to be much less judgemental and more easy-going. I felt freer when I was with them. I did struggle with one thing – the food! We only got one hot meal a day which alternated between lunch and dinner, while the other meals were bread with cheese, bread with meat (like hams), bread with spreads (like jam, chocolate, peanut butter etc.) or some weird and wacky combinations with traditional Dutch food, like sprinkles …. on bread! Vruchten Slag which was basically rainbow sprinkles, that I personally didn’t like because they tasted like sugar that had gone off, and Hagel Slag was milk or dark chocolate sprinkles that tasted delicious. The novelty of bread and jam for almost every meal quickly wore off and by the second day I was contemplating a James Bond exercise to smuggle some chocolate bars up to my room for midnight snacks. There was a strict rule on not wasting food and everything on our plates had to be cleared. There was a quick family bond formed as food was passed around in a desperate attempt to finish it. My fussy streak was really stretched but I really surprised myself at how adventurous my taste buds became. If I had to pick my two favourite days at camp, they would be the messy days. Filled with boisterous, outdoor activities, these were right up my street. I love adventure and I’m always up for getting muddy. Teamwork was the key on the first day and being paired up with my new friends definitely helped. Raft building, obstacle courses and ‘parkour’ courses were all on the menu of activities. It was as if Christmas had come early as it was everything I love doing, with great people, all packed into one day. The day of the ‘Messy Games’ was aptly named because every activity involved getting soaked, having glitter or shaving cream thrown on us or being dunked in a paddling pool full of mud. It was hilarious and carefree as everyone could just let loose and not have to worry about anything except getting dirty and winning points. Looking back on it now, I see that the whole experience has made me think very differently about the whole Catholic faith. Before, I thought that Catholics just prayed and did boring stuff all the time, but camp showed me that, especially for young people, our faith can actually be really fun. More importantly, I have learned to recognise a new depth in relationships that having a common faith can bring. I’m really glad that I took the opportunity to go as I have gained in confidence and it has encouraged me to pursue more opportunities as you never know what you might miss.

Arianne McCrosson