Being a pilgrim means that you make a journey to your destination, making the long journey from South Wales to Walsingham back in 2017 as a 14-year-old pilgrim was a big step in the right direction towards finding my faith little did I know that 6 years later I would still be making that pilgrimage for the same event.
I first experienced the youth pilgrimage in 2017 alongside my sister and many other young people within the diocese of Llandaff. I was very nervous, I had watched other videos and seen pictures of previous years and thought this looks all exciting maybe I should go and see for myself. Leaving home for 5 days and camping in the middle of nowhere was very exciting and very nerve-wracking all at the same time. However, one of the main things that made me feel really settled was having wonderful leaders to help make the experience the best it possibly could. From this first experience I made a lifelong best friend from the Youth Pilgrimage. Our friendship grew and we’ve made so many incredible memories over the last 6 years.
One of the key nights out of the youth pilgrimage even six years on still holds a very important message for me is the Wednesday night. Being a pilgrim at the age of 14,15 &16, being able to go to a member of the Ministry or Worship team and to have someone who was willing to pray for me gave me the sense of comfort. That sense of comfort helped me to know that even when your faced with the darkest of times there is always someone who is willing to help and is always there for you.
The key aspect of the Youth Pilgrimage that always made me want to return was the fellowship and camp atmosphere. To have a live performing band playing for as many as 500 young pilgrims, to experience the sense of escaping reality, no Wi-Fi, no connections with people back at home and to just be still and in the presence of God.
Turning 18 during 2020, this meant that I was no longer able to go to the Youth Pilgrimage as a pilgrim, in 2022 when the youth pilgrimage resumed after the lockdown, I felt like my time was not yet done. I decided to apply for the stewarding team, this was very rewarding and helped me to explore the Youth Pilgrimage in a different way.
On the 24th of December 2022 the Youth Pilgrimage Ministry Team forms were available, I had always admired the Ministry Team having the confidence to inspire young people by being themselves and being quite vulnerable was something I never thought I would have confidence to do. Despite of this lack of confidence at the age of 14, I decided to apply and take part as a member of the Ministry Team and what an amazing experience it was.
I was given the opportunity to be one of those individuals who was able to inspire young pilgrims and I gave my testimony on a night that had always been so special to me as a pilgrim. I was able to be part of live moments on a stage in front of 300 pilgrims with other members of the team and Bishop Will Hazelwood.
From my time on the Youth Pilgrimage, I have grown in faith and heaps of confidence, made life-long friendships and formed closer relationships with those who have helped me through my journey of being a Christian.