Sunday, 18 August 2013

Festival Sanctus, the end and beyond

To my faithful and dear reader,

It is ended. But, it may not be as simple as that. But before we go there, let's proceed to the past first.

We find ourselves two weeks ago, in the diocese of Brentwood. There in the Essex town, the Sion Youth team are winding down their preparations for the conclusion of their year. I, myself, am wondering about the camp, marquee and house finalizing the risk assessment. Ondrej is coordinating the set up of the marquee as the heavy stage blocks are put in place and the lighting bar is elevated. The incredible banner featuring a painting of a hobbit hole is hung to dry, while the tent is blacked out to create an atmosphere for the event. The letters are found and stored away safely. Disaster strikes as the printer falls to provide an option to print a booklet direct, so after exhaustive efforts to avoid this, page by page must be manually aligned and copied. Poor Rahel burns the midnight oil to get it ready for participant arrival the following afternoon. Nathan and Bryony are training those helping this week in safeguarding, small group leading and prayer ministry guidelines. The others are working on beautifying the site, logistical preparations, talks and so many other key tasks for the sake of the young people coming to Festival Sanctus.

Meanwhile, this author was struggling to respond top the fact that some of these people I may well not ever see after this one week.  Feeling that someone didn't value our friendship as much as I did, for instance, I withdrew from them whereas earlier in the year I might have challenged them more and talked through the matter more. A few days later, that incident was resolved for the sake of good endings more than anything else. An aside, to give you a glimpse into my life in a slightly different way. Back to the story!

Those serving in any way had already arrived the night before, and now participants are welcomed to the festival by Elvish doorkeepers, given their tea-stained name badge and sent on a number of hobbit there's quests leading to the marquee to receive their programme and welcome pack. Thus this event begins.

In terms of light-hearted activities through the week, we do pretty well. To start with a former stand-up comedian turned priest entertains us Sunday night which even made me chuckle on the odd occasion. A ceilidh, hobbit party and a water fight all supplement the programme of prayer, talks, Mass, small group times and importantly eating. (I almost forgot to mention, the Michael Fenn song not only made it into the programme amidst the other hymns, but was performed on stage at an open mic session after the hobbit party)

An exceptional talk on prayer is delivered by Rahel and Nathan on the penultimate day. Touching off from basic principles, the pair reflect on the revelation of God to Moses, the request of the apostles to learn to pray as well as the need for personal prayer - all coming out of their personal experiences mainly over this year in Sion. Another great talk has already been given by a Dominican nun, Sr Maria, on the Fathers Love. Leaving this talk, I felt she shared a lot of catholic catechises and explaining why we do various things in a relevant way, but I particularly enjoyed the insight she gave into the Les Miserables and it's Christian themes.

Coming to the end of the event, one young lady shares his she feels freed from her depression which had plagued her for a number of years. Other people have clearly experienced a feeling of their relationship to Jesus this week, and for this we thank God.

And that is it. Thursday afternoon, the participants leave. Then de-set begins until around 7pm and all the equipment is piled into a spare room, to be left until needed after summer. The marquee is connected on Friday morning. The youth team go out for a meal together in a pub in the evening, and by Saturday lunch a handful of us had back up to Coventry while the others return home from Brentwood. Pizza and natter are the agenda for Saturday evening. Come Sunday, I awake early (fortunately, as I discover my father is arriving to collect me later that morning) and pack before Mass. Mass is celebrated by one of the auxiliary bishops, sure to the serious and unexpected illness of our parish priest Fr George. Finally, I arrive back to be taken home to Yeovil, via my aunt in Walsall. Michael Fenn youth foundation year has been successfully completed, a certificate given at the final Mass of Festival Sanctus reports.

I like writing, but I tend to lose interest and so never hold out a style the whole way through so i must apologize for that. I'm aware I change tense a bit and probably change person once or twice, but I can just tell you in exercising my library license to keep you interested. So, it's all over, but I hear you ask what now?

Firstly, although I have chosen not to remain a full time member of the Sion Community, I will be an associate member. This means that allows l along with committing to send form of personal prayer life, supported by the sacraments, I will assist at various Sion events and mission as allowed by work/family commitments. For me, this means I will attend community gatherings where I can (these are in August, January and May, with a retreat weekend for associates in December) and help with a new event programme called The Ascent. This is a three year series of 3 weekends throughout the year designed to lead passionate young people through an ongoing formation in the form of evangelize, disciple and empower events. In the first year this will be a bible study in the half term looking at the narrative of the whole bible, an introduction to theology of the body and a leadership weekend. This then feeds into other events in which those on the ascent course can serve at in order to be use their gifts and be empowered to use what they get out of the ascent in a real way.

Secondly, I have no idea what I will do long term, or short term for that matter. I plan to work locally for a bit. Then I might go to uni if something appeals to me in the next few months. Or I may find a job in half in. Or i could return to community life. I may even do sleeping radical and unexpected.

My schedule for the coming months so you may stay informed:
August 24-26: Youth 2000, Walsingham
August 27-September 1: Sion Community August Gathering
September 7-8: planning weekend for the ascent
September 10: Jersey preparations, leading to
September 14-October 6: Jersey mission
October 28-30: The Ascent, bible study.

I ask your prayers for my future discernment, that I may find a placement in the coming months and be at peace.

Thank you so much for all your support over the year,

Yours in Christ,

 M T Fenn =)

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