Fan the Flame Mass 2012
On Thursday 7th June 2012 around 2500 young people who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Derry Diocese this year gathered at Celtic Park to celebrate the Eucharist. This is the sixth year that the 'Fan the Flame, open air Mass has been held. Monsignor Eamon Martin, Diocesan Administrator, was the main celebrant and was joined by the retired Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, the retired Auxiliary Bishop of Derry, Bishop Francis Lagan and a number of priests from across the diocese.
The young people travelled to the event by bus, by car and by foot accompanied by teachers and assistants but preparation began long before the day itself. In schools throughout the diocese the young people designed special t-shirts focusing on the power and action of the Spirit in their lives and learned the hymns for the Mass which were led by the Long Tower Folk Group.
Young people from different primary schools participated in the liturgy. Jake Donnelly, St Columba's PS, Ballinascreen read the first reading, Éireann Hickey, a pupil from St Anne's PS Derry, sang the psalm and pupils from a number of other schools read the Prayer of the Faithful, presented the offertory gifts and helped with balloon launch at the end of the Mass. Each year, at Fan the Flame 2500 balloons are released symbolising the breath of the Holy Spirit living and working within the young people.
In his homily Monsignor Martin made a connection to the Olympic Flame which had visited the city earlier in the week and the flame of faith the young people carry within them. He spoke about how the light of faith they receive at Baptism, is fanned into a flame through their parents, Godparents, parish and school communities helping them come to know Jesus as their friend. In the Sacrament of Confirmation which they received this year he reminded the young people that the Holy Spirit is 'sent down into our hearts to fan the flame afresh.' Their mission, he continued, was to shelter the flame, to nourish it through prayer, by listening to the words of Jesus in the Gospel, following his ways and passing on the light of faith to others.
This year to mark the International Eucharistic Congress taking place in Dublin the Congress Hymn-We are One Body- was sung after Communion as the diocesan schools' quilt and banners from each school were carried to the centre of the altar. As the hymn reminds us, "Though we are many, we are one body."
The success of 'Fan the Flame' each year depends on so many people who give of their time and energy so generously. Adult volunteers along with a large number of second level students gathered from early morning, working to ensure that the day was a memorable occasion for all. The enthusiasm of the youth volunteers many of whom are also participating in the Pope John Paul II Award, was a great witness to all present of the faith of these young people and how they are helping to pass the light of faith to others. Many of these students had themselves attended the first Fan the Flame Mass back in 2007.