Jesuits at Newbridge for Y2K Christmas retreat

In recent years Youth 2000 have seen increasing numbers of young adults choosing to devote their last weekend before Christmas to the person who is, after all, the reason for the season. This year 700 young adults from the four proud provinces battled their way through rising flood-waters to set a new attendance record at the annual Christmas retreat which took place at Newbridge College, Co. Kildare. In what was also surely a record of sorts, nine (NINE!) intrepid Jesuits went along to immerse themselves in the experience and to accompany the young retreatants on their spiritual journey to the manger.

The catechetical focus of the talks was that God wants you to be happy and that letting God into your life in a real way is the path to authentic happiness, or as Pope Francis has put it, to experiencing the joy of the Gospel. As regards spirituality, the retreatants were invited to welcome God into their lives by sincerely receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, to experience His mercy in the sacrament of confession, to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament and to contemplate His life in the mysteries of the rosary.

Judging by the buzz around the place this life-giving formula had the intended effect. At every workshop, share group, meal and queue, it seemed like everyone was eager to talk. Conversations ebbed and flowed between the sacred and the silly! The happy faces on this YouTube video say it all.

The laughing and smiling was all the more credible given that many honest tears were shed during the reconciliation service on the Saturday night. Those Jesuits who heard confessions were simply overawed by the depth of the young people’s trust, transparency and the subsequent healing that took place for so many.

The indefatigable organisers and army of volunteers, without whom such special occasions could not happen, also gave witness to the true presence of the Lord in their lives by their selfless service. All who were present owe a debt of gratitude to those who live out Youth 2000’s motto “youth leading youth to the heart of the Church.”

We Jesuits were so moved and enthused by the events of the weekend that we met early in the new year to prayerfully reflect and share on the experience, just as St. Ignatius himself would have done. With one mind and heart we made a commitment to continue attending and serving at future Youth 2000 retreats.

Jesuits present: Mateusz Basiejko SJ, Edmond Grace SJ, Niall S. Leahy SJ, Bernard McGuckian SJ, Brendy McManus SJ, León O’Giolláin SJ, Kevin O’Rourke SJ, Michael Sheil SJ, Kamil Slawinski SJ.

Originally published at

Like what you read? Give Niall Leahy SJ a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.