After a full term at Animate, I have learned and accomplished many things.
Before joining the team, I had been a sixth-form student in Liverpool and had many things to keep me occupied in my spare time. On a Sunday morning I would help to lead the altar servers in my local parish with their duties. Throughout the week I was a volunteer at our parish youth club. I balanced this with playing in a rock band that I had formed with friends.
I joined Animate after being reminded of my gap-year opportunities by a friend. I had initially wished to join the team in 2016 after taking part in the Archdiocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes (thanks to a lady called Moira, who generously used part of an inheritance to fund my trip). When I looked into it, though, I was too young to apply at the time.
It was later, when a friend from my Lourdes coach who was already on the team, suggested I join that I remembered how much I'd wanted to do so after my first pilgrimage. I practically jumped at the chance, therefore, and on getting my place in the team deferred my university admission to take this amazing opportunity.
Four months later I have settled into Animate and found a sense of comfort with those around me. As a community, everybody has helped me to grow in faith and overcome some of the things I struggled with. Admittedly, on my first few day retreats, it was pretty obvious I was nervous. Yet by taking on board tips from the rest of the team and getting used to a new environment, I have managed to overcome my lack of confidence when presenting.
If Animate has helped me in that respect, my time here has also helped me learn a lot about my faith. When first joining, I wasn't too sure how to go about things such as personal prayer or how to help others to understand a faith environment, but aspects of both work and community living have helped me to figure these things out.
Praying as a team has helped me to understand how to write prayers or reflections, both for my own use and for our collective worship. I have also had the chance to write a catechetical – a type of homily delivered by someone other than a priest, and something I didn't think I'd ever have the chance to do ... and, for that matter, didn't even know was possible!
From events such as Adoremus to living with an amazing group of people, Animate has presented me with so many brilliant things, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store: hopefully allowing me to learn even more about my faith and help spread that learning to the young people we work with.
Date for the diary:
Flame 2019 takes place at Wembley Arena on Saturday 2 March. To book your ticket and travel (£25), contact email@example.com or 01744 740460.