BY TRACY-JO SMITH
ORGANISERS of the Youth 2000
annual festival of prayer and evangelisation have claimed that this year's event marked a historic breakthrough in relations between the bishops and young people.
An audience of 1,500 young people welcomed the spiritual leader of England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, at the event held at the National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham, Norfolk, which came to a climax on Bank Holiday Monday The Cardinal beamed at the congregation as they rose to their feet to give him a standing ovation and to sing a rendition of "Happy Birthday", marking his 71st birthday.
Bishop David Konstant of Leeds, a patron of Youth 2000, and Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton attended the meeting and received a similar welcome from the young people.
The festival's theme "Behold your Mother!" echoed the Holy Father's World Youth Day letter exhorting young people to follow the example of St John by welcoming Mary "into their homes".
Key speakers included Lord Alton, Peter Garrett, Fr Ian Ker, Mgr John Armitage and Fr Stan Fortuna of the Greyfriars from New York. The talks were reportedly inspiring and challenged young people to respond to the Holy Father's call to "dare to go against the tide and proclaim with vigour and enthusiasm their personal faith in God, Lord and Saviour".
Summing up the event, Robert Toone, national director of Youth 2000, said: "This year has seen•a historic breakthrough in the history of Youth 2000.
"The deep and genuine affection between the bishops and the young people was tangible. The bishops'
presence affirmed the young people in their response to the call of the Holy Father to be 'heralds of the Gospel' and 'builders of the new civilisation of love'."
The five-day event is run on a donation-only basis and costs around £90,000.
So far around £50,000 has been raised, the bishops having donated around £9,000.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to Youth 2000 or to receive more information should contact Youth 2000, PO Box 176, Leeds, LS17 9EP. or phone 01937 579700,
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