The Return to Woldingham: Faith Summer Conference 2012 in visuals

Click here to read about last year's Faith Summer Conference.

I am writing to tell you that last year, and indeed during all previous Faith Conferences, I was upbeat, particularly barmy and outspoken, and did not hesitate to make new friends...... but this time, I was largely reserved, sticking mainly to my close friends. I stuck with Charlotte and the Hatfield bunch: Fr Mark Vickers, Peter Murphy, Jamie Macdonald and a few others. I do not know what led to this change of phase... all I do know is that I wanted to know for sure what I was being called to.

Here is my story in visuals. I'm scratching the surface with these, because putting a reflexion into this post will be overkill. I will be crediting the images where they do not come from me. The reflexion will come in another post.

Monday, 30 July 2012.

I know that we were hoping to get our Catholic Society tees done for the Faith Summer Conference, but we didn't manage to. Commitments came up for all of us. So to keep the spirits up, I drew this on my left hand. Sharpie markers and metallic pens. Right below my hand was my red notebook/spiritual journal: I decided to take it with me and make notes of the talks.

We arrived about two hours after we left: Damian, Jamie, Sylvia and I were in one car. And Damian, the rascal he was....... we had no idea what music to play in the car because Jamie had a collection of CDs, so we trusted Damian's better judgement. And Damian picked a CD full of cheesy driving songs, which we had to suffer listening to for the next two hours! (It's all in good fun.)

We came to Woldingham School once again, put our stuff aside and went down to the Millenium Centre - the place where the talks would be held.

Social time outside the hall where the talks were to be held.

The first talk went on, and it was followed by Mass at the chapel afterwards. Then, it was lunchtime. The cafeteria had changed location this time, so we had trouble finding it.... but finally, we did. It was a walk outside what would be considered the main complex, and to one of the buildings closer to the entrance/exit!

In all fairness, I guess it was a welcome change: more people would be willing to walk... at least I would! :D

Thought I'd take a few before the talks, just to give you an idea of what the venue's like, and what the turnout was like. There were 200-odd young people, to say nothing about the clergy and helpers. And I wonder if that figure includes day visitors... The majority of people came from Westminster (including those of us from Hertfordshire), whilst right behind us were a strong group of Scotsmen, who have been faithfully attending the Faith Conferences for years.

There'd be a second talk in the evening, dinner, Compline (the night prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours), and after that, social time.

All of us would hang around the Main Building.

The next day...

Lauds/Terce (morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours), breakfast, talks, Mass, lunch, social time, and today would also be the day for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions. Pictured above are the Hatfield bunch.

That afternoon, I went with Charlotte to the chapel. On her encouragement, I went in, asking little from God -- I only wanted to have my ears and my heart tuned to what God wanted of me. I will talk about this in a separate post..... it's been one of the most profound prayers I've had. It was a struggle. Not necessarily a feel-good moment (a lot of my profound prayers have not been feel-good moments), and I can draw quite a lot from it.

During the confession period (and it was almost sundown when this happened)....... the fire alarm rang.

All of us had to go to the tennis court and assemble.

The Men in Black were no exception.

Ann McCallion and helpers gave out the roll call: everyone's name was called from the roster. There were some missing people...

After Compline that night, we hung out at the main building as always. That day was Joseph Treloar's birthday, and we celebrated with cake!

Social time, taken from outside the Main Building. I made a similar shot last year... but I always find that this is one of the homelier pictures I've managed to take. In films and cartoons that give you this homely, fuzzy feeling, they usually start by zooming in outside a lit window with people in it. Then, they take a look at the people inside. The same rule applies here.

I would usually go to bed around midnight or a few minutes after. I must mention that at the Faith Conferences, curfew is at the reasonable time of 1:00 a.m. Understandable: there are people under 18 and over the age of 18 who attend these conferences, and order has to be maintained at any time.

Evening came and morning came, the third day:

A shot from the room before going out and beginning the day. Never mind that my dressing style was slightly eccentric and highly reminiscent of anime characters - I loved the room I was in.

I woke up at just after 7:00 that morning. And when I was about to go to the cafeteria for an early breakfast....... I heard the fire alarm ring. AGAIN.

As you can judge from this picture, the Men in Black finally began to arrive. I was the first to arrive at the tennis court because of how close I was to it when the alarm rang. Apparently, there was an actual fire alarm trigger that morning.

And, because it was early in the morning........


Another roll call was to be made that morning.

Finally, after that, we were able to have our breakfast in peace.

This is Jamie, our Catholic Society president. It's funny, but the fact that we're all able to hold deep conversations at table and at any point in time....... it's just wonderful.

There were talks and question time. Not very many people were willing to ask their questions with a microphone in hand (understandable), but the people giving the talks were very helpful, very spot-on and very articulate. We've got Sister Andrea Fraile in the middle and Canon Luiz Ruscillo at the right.

After Terce, talks, Mass and lunch......

I did a hand marker drawing AGAIN, and another one in support of the CathSoc.

Jamie, Sylvia, Max, and I went to the play park. Fr Mark joined us later..... There was this cable slider thingymabobber which all of us were fascinated with.

That evening, Compline was held early because there was a Quiz Night in the main building, just like last year.

Seven out of eight members of the Hull-based team Baby Monkey.

This picture was taken by Fr Stephen Brown. I look unnaturally dark and ambiguously brown in that picture, but oh well. I'm glad he took it nonetheless.

And now with all facets of the hall captured on camera...

...I present to you, minus myself, the Hatfield Heretics! In the picture are Jamie, Max, Damian, Fr Mark, James (Kelliher), Peter (Johnson) and Fr Andrew (Gallagher). My Vic Firth sigs (I am talking about the drumsticks) are there..... as noisemakers.

The name was suggested by Fr Mark himself. We all agreed with the name - it was pure classiness, right there. Oooooh, and there were among the members of the floor, people who said we'd be damned for our name. *waves fingers*

Question time?

Counting scores.

Proof of how barmy I can get when I'm rallying with my friends. Practically all of us (with the possible exception of Fr Andrew Gallagher) hail from Hertfordshire. The picture right above this block of text is essentially the Japanisation of "Hatfield Heretics", and would read ハットフィールド ヘルチック Hattofiirudo Herechikku. Technically "chi" does not always make a proper Japanisation for "ti", but I had no space on my arm to continue.

And the marker drawing took me a good week to wash off!

The final scores were being counted.

The winners were announced and the top-placed winners went on to take their prizes. The Hatfield Heretics placed fourth, which was a drastic improvement from last year. Admittedly, Fr Mark helped us with a major portion of the quiz....... one would have never thought how extensive his knowledge on pop culture was, considering how prim and proper he was. It was just hilarious to hear him humming "Yellow Submarine" or do things to that effect! We had contributed to other parts of the quiz, but I won't deny this: Fr Mark was a genius that night.

We effectively smashed the groups who said we'd be damned for being "heretics"! XD

The next day was our last full day in the Faith Summer Conference, and before the first talk, each group had photo sessions. And here we go......

The images taken from the front were taken by Fr Tim Finigan, the images from the side are mine.

A token of appreciation was given to Ann McCallion and team for the smooth running of the Faith Conference. We love you! <3 br="br">

Westminster! The largest group to attend this Faith Summer Conference. You may be able to tell where I am, especially with my eccentric colour and dress sense.

Northeast, including Merseyside and Lancashire. You are wondering why Peter Murphy is in these pictures (far left) although he's in the Hertfordshire Chaplaincy: he came to the conference from his hometown in Liverpool.

The Men in Black! Admittedly, I'm quite pleased with these pictures. Also, Fr Mark is standing in the middle row.

The Sisters.

Team Scotland. The Scotsmen were the second largest group after Westminster to turn up to this Faith Conference. The Faith Conferences have always had a strong following of Scots.

Team Seminarians. They come all across Britain (one or two even from outside Britain!), and are all preparing for the priesthood. When we think of how all of them are going to be collared at the end of their period of study, training and prayer, we can't think of happier thoughts!

P.S. Love that smile, Damian. (Damian's standing in the middle row, second from left.)

Team Southwest.

Team Rest-of-Europe. Otherwise known as Team France, Spain and Elsewhere. Pascal (Hebditch) decided to join the team because "he was a little French".

Team West Midlands.

Team Yorkshire/Northeast. Otherwise known as the Scarborough/Hull side. I like to think they are the third largest group to attend the Faith Conference this time.

And finally, photos to remember, taken by Fr Tim Finigan --

In the backdrop were all of us, and in front, the "elder statesmen of the Faith Conference" -- Dan Cooper and Fr Roger Nesbitt. The two of them were there during the very first Faith Conference forty years ago.

The stately picture.

And by tradition, the silly picture. Fr Tim Finigan actually said himself that we young whippersnappers don't know how to be silly anymore! Just look at how blank some people's faces were!..... in contrast to last year's picture... By tradition, Troisnyx must have drumsticks ready for use.

After talks, Mass and lunch, a few of us Hatfielders decided to go to the school playground and let loose. There was this cable slider thing, and we all decided to play on it.

Pictures of me were taken by Sylvia Beka, pictures of her and everyone else were taken by yours truly. Still shows that we know how to let our hair down...

There's something I like about the picture that can't be put into words.

Okay, admittedly, I put too much contrast on the picture, it's not even funny.

Oh, you never thought you'd see this, would you? Cable slider thingymabobber, now with obstacles to hinder your path... one of those obstacles being a parish priest!

This was a very rare shot, but I am thankful that I've managed to take it. Fr Mark joined us in letting loose at the playground, it was awesome.

San, ni, ichi -- ready when you are! I cried. This was a sight nobody thought he'd see. Apparently Fr Mark knew he was going to be recorded (that's what Jamie said!).

Another video we all thought we'd never see. XD Max and Jamie turned the playground into an assault course, with a time trial run.... Max scored 57 seconds (placing him first), Jamie scored about a little more than 1:00, Fr Mark scored 2:20, I scored 2:57......

The astounding fact is that Fr Mark is really that physically fit -- he did far better than me! ^_^

Later that evening, to celebrate 40 years of the Faith Conferences, there was a fireworks display on the fields leading to the entrance/exit of Woldingham School.

Four torches marked the boundary where we were to stand.

Horseplay. This was taken unintentionally: all I wanted to do was say that there was going to be a fireworks display. Then I heard Jamie laughing, and I saw Fr Mark and Max plonk on the floor!

Apparently this is what happened: Fr Mark is said to have seen something interesting on the ground, and so he went on all fours. Then Jamie pushed Max on Fr Mark's back and it didn't work well for both of them! XD

The beginning of the fireworks display.

The fireworks, IN FULL! I'm proud to have been part of this event. <3 br="br">

After that was the customary céilidh, but this time, I only took part in one or two dances, and passed the rest.

That's me with Halina Gawor and Natalie Page. The first picture is mine, the second is Halina's. Admittedly, hers is far better. ^_^

This picture was requested by Charlotte. I took this in the middle of my conversations with Fr Mark and friends!

Friday 3 August 2012 was the day of the last talk, and we all had to pack up and prepare to go home. We were sent off with a Mass, which was beyond awesome. ^_^ The journey home was quieter than the journey down to Woldingham. Part of the reason was because Damian couldn't go with us -- he was going to visit his family in Oxfordshire. So it was only Jamie, Sylvia and myself in the ride back. And lots of sleep, and coach-watching, and braving congestion on the motorways.

Other uncategorised pictures, taken by Fr Tim Finigan --

Apparently now Jamie is going to be well-known. ;-)

Apparently this was taken long before one of the talks began, judging from how empty the hall was.

Day visitors? Can't say I know what the pic's actually about.

Some young people walking in with Sr Roseann. *happy sigh* You know her, you love her, you can't live without her! ^_^ Wonder if they're walking to the lunch table...

I take it this is also about people walking to the lunch table.... I practically know everyone in this picture: Fr Stephen Brown and Canon Luiz Ruscillo (front), Sarah and Ellen Craddock (middle), Sylvia and Fr Michael John Galbraith (back)...

That reminds me, I've been largely picture-shy during this conference, that I never got under Fr Tim's radar this time.

That priest has phone reception because he's on Vodafone! (Did I hear some jealous whispers? Thankfully they aren't coming from me, because I am on that network too. ^_-)

Well, that's all the pictorial evidence from me. I'm glad to have been a part of that event, and I do certainly look forward to the next one.

Also see:
Reflexions on the Faith Summer Conference 2012


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