On the weekend of the 17th January, The Briars was host to the parishes of St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s, St. Alban’s and St Hugh’s. This retreat marked the start of the journey that is confirmation for all of the young people who joined us, and also allowed those who have made their confirmation return and try their hand at leading sessions! We focused on the importance of a balance between getting to know your peers and getting to know yourself; because prayer is for all of us and we shouldn’t ignore our own intentions!

In order to get to know each other better, we began the retreat with some team-building games (but not before some beautiful tomato pasta AND garlic bread for dinner!). Each game we played was like a stage in a journey, and with each success our contestants would receive an item to help them along their journey. We ended with hats, jackets, suitcases and water (only the necessary items for survival of course!). We were reminded that it’s not always the physical items you need to keep you going on a journey – such as that of confirmation – but it’s also the mental and emotional attributes like determination that allow you to get to the end of your journey! This was the theme of the night prayer that night, which resulted in this fantastic focus!

We got really hands-on with confirmation on our full day here at The Briars. We were challenged with difficult questions such as: “Is it MY decision to get confirmed?” and “What makes ME want to get confirmed?”. We were posed these questions in various ways and had the freedom of creativity to decide how we presented them! Hilarious radio shows, advertisements, podcasts and dramas were the result – including tantalising promotional offers for Lourdes and other products. The underlying significance was really in the independence these questions require. It’s true that confirmation is a journey that you can make alongside others, but it’s really up to YOU to decide if it’s the correct decision for yourself. This also brought us back to the idea that although prayer is often a community effort, it’s absolutely fine to pray for your own intentions and ask for answers to your own questions!

One of the best parts of this retreat, of course, had to be the delicious roast we had on Sunday! Packed full of new potatoes, roast potatoes, beef, Yorkshire puddings, cabbage, carrots, gravy AND topped off with some lush carrot cake to end our wonderful time together. We were honoured to spend the weekend with young people, young leaders and catechists who have come together as a strong community and we wish all you young people looking to make your confirmation a marvellous, faithful journey!

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