Fan the Flame 2009

During the year an open-air Mass was celebrated in the Brandywell Football Stadium for all the children who have been confirmed in the Diocese of Derry during the past year.

Throughout the year these young people had received the sacrament of Confirmation in their parishes and were now coming to the end of their primary school education. It was a wonderful opportunity to mark the completion of a very important stage in their lives and to remember that it is as spirit-filled people they were about to embark on the next.

Almost two and a half thousand young people from Inishowen, Derry City, Co Derry and Co Tyrone attended wearing t-shirts they had designed focusing on the Holy Spirit and the power and action of the Spirit in their lives.

The main celebrant was Most Rev Seamus Hegarty, who was joined by auxiliary Bishop Francis Lagan along with some of the priests of the diocese.

Long Tower Folk Group led the music and every school carried their own banner in the entrance procession.

The day was made possible through the work of the volunteers who gave of their time and energy so generously. It was particularly uplifting to witness the enthusiasm of so many youth volunteers many of whom are participating in the Pope John Paul II Award

At the beginning of Mass Maria Walsh from the Pioneer Total Abstinence Society Youth Committee spoke about her work and the need for young people to abstain from alcohol.  She encouraged those who have been confirmed to keep their Confirmation Pledge until they are eighteen.

The Mass was a joyful experience which should remain with the young people for many years.  At the end of the celebration 2500 balloons were released symbolising the breath of the Spirit living in each on of the young people present.

In the Second Letter to Timothy, St Paul reminds us to, 'Fan into flame the gift we possess.' Through the celebration of this Mass the young people of the Diocese were reminded of their baptismal call and were encouraged to use their gifts and talents, with the help of the Holy Spirit to respond to that call each day.