URGENT MESSAGE FROM EAST ANGLIA WYD GROUP: Two places available in our group due to two people cancelling. However, we have to confirm names with the airline by the end of this week, so time is of the essence! We leave on July 15th and return on July 31st. We are a spending Mission week in Caxias do Sul before flying onto Rio for the WYD week and with less than four weeks before we leave, we are getting very excited! Anyone interested in joining us, please email Hamish, the group leader on email@example.com
While many of us are preparing for WYD using our talents, Dominic Cunliffe was busy making his debut album. Dominic is a youth worker and catechist at Holy Ghost Balham, South London and is studying for a Bachelor of Divinity with Maryvale Institute. He is also a singer-songwriter and has released his debut single You Sustain, and album Childsong online.
Jo-Anne Rowney chatted to Dominic about his songwriting and how it links to WYD.
Dominic has released Childsong, his album, to fund a trip to World Youth Day. Donations for the album will go towards funding for Take a Stand, the group Dominic is travelling with. But to understand Dominic’s motivation he tells me he needs to explain his own journey of faith, which began years ago.
“I was raised as a cradle Catholic and always saw myself as intensely spiritual. I was quite actively in the church as a teenager,” he said.
As he got older though Dominic says he ‘lost the concept of faith’ and by the end of university had left God behind.
He said: “I left God behind and ended up in a very gloomy and negative place. The joy in Christ had evaporated. I was more hippy or I suppose pagan.”
It was after university that Dominic started to make his way back. “After university I guess was the crisis point. I came back to Cardiff and I felt like I was where I was meant to be.”
Spurred on by this feeling Dominic started to get involved. “It was there I got a lot more involved in a non-Catholic Church, it was Christian though. My first morning there I sang and it completely reminded me how much I missed God and needed Him. I didn’t go back to Church, but increased the musical side of things. People started to nuture my talents. They invested their time freely in me and I re-learnt how to worship with music.”
Dominic says while there was no conversion moment as such he knew he had come home at a Youth 2000 event when he was in front of the Blessed Sacrament. “It wasn’t a bombshell or penny dropping moment, I knew that the Blessed Sacrament was real, I knew I was Catholic and it’s as simple as that.”
While Dominic had found his faith he took awhile to share it. “For the next eight months I’d call myself a ‘closet catholic’ I didn’t want to tell anyone.”
Now though Dominic shares his faith through his music. He explains how his music has changed. “The music I used to write was folk, acoustic or hippy, I played it acoustic with my guitar. With Childsong I’ve created an album I believe God gave to me. It took me out of my comfort zone as I teamed up with a Gospel rapper and he’s made me sound a bit different. More pop and RnB twist to it.”
Quite a change, I say.
“If said five years ago I’d be doing this I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “I thought it should all be unplugged. But He’s done a great job. It’s given it an interesting edge.”
Dominic’s album wasn’t always for WYD. “I had just written Your Child Forever and I just got the inspiration suddenly to do an album to help people who feel orphaned somehow. I never met my father and I knew God is father to us all. I wanted to write an album to help people understand that.”
The idea didn’t quite take off though. “As fun as it was I needed to be reminded its God’s project – I decided I’d take no profit from the sales. It was His inspiration. After awhile I decided to give the funding from it to Take a Stand, a group going to WYD. I’m going with them.”
Coming to the end of our conversation, Dominic tries to explain his excitement ahead of WYD. “I wasn’t anti-Catholic before I was more apathetic so I’m so excited to go to WYD – to finally go from imagining the Church alive to see the life as a visible body of people. I’ve been before but not since I’ve come back to the faith so I know it’s going to be amazing and unique.”
Listen to Dominic’s music at
We are six young and less-young people participating in a unique opportunity organised by Assumption Volunteers (www.alvp.org.uk) to spend 4 weeks working with a charity in Rio before joining the other pilgrims for WYD.
Usually, Assumption Volunteers are placed in a project for a year, often sharing in the lives of poor communities and offering skills such as teaching English. Martina is a current volunteer in Northern Brazil who will be joining the group in Rio for the whole of this special WYD experience. Natalie, Rebecca, Rachel and Kieran are University students scattered across the UK who applied specifically for the shorter and specially designed Rio project, offering the opportunity to combine a stretch of voluntary work in a different culture with attendance of WYD. Isabel is a Religious of the Assumption keen to take advantage of this international experience!
Our volunteering experience will be with Amar (
- it’s all in Portuguese!), a charity working with children and young people who are at risk because of their social conditions. Concretely, that means children living in favelas, some of them in families and some on the streets. Amar offers all kinds of support, including educational and social opportunities. We hope that we will find something to share with them, even if it is nothing more than our attention and interest!
With any luck we won’t be too exhausted to enjoy WYD to the full, when we get that far!
We travel to Rio on 23rd June, so we hope to keep you updated with our experiences in the weeks preceding WYD.
We are counting on your prayers as we embark on this exciting experience!
Religious of the Assumption
on behalf of Assumption Volunteers in Rio
In a few weeks I will bid adieu to you all and embark on the greatest adventure of my life so far as I travel to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for my second World Youth Day. As a result of all your kind donations and support I was able to go to WYD Madrid in 2011 and it was such an important event in my life. It changed the way I looked at everything and was a vital catalyst for my journey into adulthood. My time in Rio will however be very different to that which I spent in Madrid. Instead of attending as a pilgrim, witnessing all the central acts such as catechesis, stations of the cross, lots and lots and lots of masses and pope stalking; I will be reporting on everything that is happening during WYD week, broadcasting it to the catholic world. This means that my days will be very intense but even more so, rewarding.
Since October I have been quietly working for the World Youth Day organisation translating news from Portuguese to English and then passing these translations on to the rest of the world. On top of this I’ve been running the official WYD Facebook and Twitter accounts which have nearly 900,000 followers. I have been doing all this along with a very small English speaking team from around the world. Over the last few months I’ve developed a close friendship with these people and I am really looking forward to working with them during the events in Rio. I’m sure that we will continue to be close friends even after the event has passed.
Without bragging, two of the people I work with passed my name onto the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and I have received accreditation to report on behalf of them whilst in Rio. Once WYD is over I am spending a little bit more time travelling round Brazil cherishing every moment I get over there and hopefully will get a little time to explore Rio once all the tourists are gone. After this I will return back to England but spend the rest of my summer up in the Lake District performing a somewhat similar job for an event called WYDFest (World Youth Day Festival) which is being run by the Diocese of Salford and the Diocese of Lancaster. This event is for all young people who weren’t able to attend Rio and I will be spending my time working with a lot of close friends from Madrid.
Every second of this fantastic summer wouldn’t in any way be possible without your support and prayers and I want to thank you for every penny you contributed to my initial WYD trip. Not only did it help me enjoy a wonderful experience but it dramatically developed me as a person and I count myself as an incredibly lucky person to be a part of the parish of Sacred Heart and St Francis. You’re all awesome!
As Rio gets closer I hope to set up a way for you to track the events in Rio through a personal video log. However please make sure you like ‘World Youth Day’ on Facebook and follow @WYD_en on Twitter.See you soon,
Hi, My name is Paula and together with Jo-Anne, I am helping to organise the UKPilgrims group to World Youth Day Rio2013.
I am also working as an International Volunteer for Rio2013, helping with the day to day running of the official twitter account @wyd_en, with other 2 international volunteers – one of them is from the North of England and the other one from the USA. I have been involved in doing this job more or less since September last year and it entails twitting for this account on a 24/7 basis. One of the things I love most about this work is the opportunity to belong to a truly international team, being in contact with pilgrims from all over the world and reflecting on the daily Gospel readings.
Having the opportunity to do this volunteering work is amazing, I love my Catholic faith and since I went to Madrid in 2011, my life has been transformed and revitalised. Madrid has given me confidence in my faith and the gift to live life to the full in real time.
During my time in Madrid I acted as a Communications Officer for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. This meant blogging my Madrid experience on the ukpilgrims.com website, tweeting and posting on Facebook. Apart from getting access to the media centre and press passes to some of the press boxes – which was awesome – it was also a great opportunity to absorb the WYD experience at a deeper level. By writing about all the different happenings after a WYD day, it gave me the opportunity to review every detail of what had happened during those extraordinary days.
It was during this time that I met Jo-Anne and James, and we decided this event was too amazing to keep to ourselves; we had to do something and so the idea was born for a WYD book. We gathered testimonies from different pilgrims that we met along the way and asked for their stories. Finally last month we released the book – World Youth Day: Inspiring Generations in two different versions: an ebook full version available worldwide through Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Youth-Day-Generations-ebook/dp/B00C0GBAMY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370900484&sr=8-1&keywords=inspiring+generations) and a CTS booklet with a shorter selection of testimonies (http://www.ctsbooks.org/world-youth-day-inspiring-generations). Not one testimony is the same as another – we all go to WYD together but we all have different journeys of faith.
It may sound crazy but one of the reasons why I am volunteering to organise the UKPilgrim Communications Officers group is because of a particular occurrence in Madrid when a friend – John – and I made our way to the Way of the Cross via the Parque del Retiro. We had a Union Jack flag with us and along our journey we were stopped several times by individuals or groups of pilgrims who wanted to chat with us. It was then that I realised that UK pilgrims have so much to give to the universal life of the Church and no matter how small or insignificant the number of UK pilgrims when compared to other nations, it is still an essential part of the body of Christ – and his Church. In other words World Youth Day would not be complete without pilgrims from the UK.
Last year, I spent some time visiting different events for young Catholics in the UK. It is clear to me that this country has great potential in its hands – the young Catholics in this country have a deep faith rooted in Christ. My job as a coordinator for UK pilgrims is to serve these young people so they can experience World Youth Day to the full. Jo and I are both using our experience in Madrid to make the most of Rio for UK pilgrims. We hope that we can give them the confidence to get out there: tweet, Facebook and blog so others may know UK pilgrims are going to attend World Youth Day and that they will make this experience their own.
World Youth Day in Rio2013 from 23rd-28th July.
You can follow UKpilgrims on
Twitter: @ukpilgrims and
By Michael Meadows
With less than two months to go until the Diocesan World Youth Day Pilgrimage departs for Rio de Janeiro, preparations for our young pilgrims are in full swing. In July the Liverpool contingent will join up to four million other young Catholics in the iconic Brazilian city, for a two week long festival of faith, in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer.
Demand for places on the trip has been high, with interest surging in Latin America in particular as a result of Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s recent election as Pope. This enthusiasm has been matched back on Merseyside, with our thirty young participants eagerly anticipating this once in a lifetime experience. As can be expected in the current economic climate, such a considerable journey is matched by an equally sizeable cost for each of the successful applicants from our area, so pilgrims have been using their initiative to each fund-raise their steps to South America.
On a glorious May bank holiday weekend, Rosie Whalley (18) and myself, Michael Meadows (23) enlisted the help of our kind-hearted friends Frankie, Lauren and Tom to host an all-day car wash at Our Lady Immaculate, Bryn. The event was extremely well supported by the Parish, and saw the team clean countless vehicles whilst their owners attended masses during the dayRosie, who attended World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011, said, ‘My Parish has always been extremely supportive in helping me get to occasions like World Youth Day, and this event was no exception. I must thank Father John and all of the parishioners for their help and kind donations. I’m really looking forward to getting to Rio, being able to explore my faith further and meet lots of new people.’
Other recent fundraising events across the Diocese have included cake sales, a Race Night, and also the Animate Youth Ministries team partaking in a mammoth 24 hour sponsored cycle, covering the distance from their base in St Helens, to the Vatican. The event was held at the local ‘Gymbug’ and saw members of the team and friends don their tracksuits for stints on the bike towards the 2112km target. An extremely tired Animate Team Coordinator Sarah Beatty explained after the event, ‘our Team Leader Ferg Williams-Tanton organised the cycle with the owners of Gymbug, as many of the team are members at the gym. We had lots of fun and burned countless calories in raising just over £700 in total!’
To keep the Archdiocese informed of preparations in the weeks building up to the pilgrimage, and indeed whilst out in Rio, the trip’s media team will be posting blog entries, a diary and articles on a regular basis. Anyone interested in following our journey should log on to www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk. Follow @LivPilgrim and @AnimateYouth.
A strange thing happened a few weeks ago. I got an email from Jo from ICN. After the article she had done on the WYD Book written by UK pilgrims a pilgrim called Patrick had contacted her.
Patrick had bought the Kindle version, and said we needed to correct something. I let out a groan. It’s not easy updating the book, and it wasn’t something I was about to relish. Then, I read what he said, and had to read it again. You see Patrick is from Malawi.
It’s amazing to think the book has reached that far. Then again, that’s what WYD is all about reaching around the world and pulling us all together. Whether we’re from Malawi, Britain or, well, Rio!
So, I emailed back.
You were probably wondering what on earth this correction was. It turned out- without realising – one of the pilgrims had mentioned his group, the Alleluya Band, but hadn’t realised the words on their tshirts wasn’t the name of their band – we’d just used the wrong name. Easily remedied, and now thanks to that tiny correction we have another friend and fellow pilgrim all the way away in Malawi!
But that’s quite enough from me – I thought it’d be nice to share the WYD love and a bit of the band’s story with an interview we did with the Alleluya Band. Enjoy and God Bless!
Name of band: Alleluya Band
Type of music: Malawi’s traditional music and reggae.
How did you start?
The band started in 1978 as a Parish band. It was precisely on 19 January 1978 when a 29 year old Montfort Priest from Entratico, Bergamo was celebrating his Feast Day at St. Monfort Parish in Balaka that young people boys led by Paul Banda organized his fellow young men into a small band to sing for this young priest. They performed well and Fr. Mario promised to support them. This is the promise he had kept till now. The band remained the parish band till Blessed Pope John Paul II visited Malawi in 1989. The band’s performance attracted the attention of many and since then the band trots all over the country.
How many members?
The band has 14 members and it continues to train many young people across the country.
What do you sing about?
With a motto, “Sing Life with Joy” the band’s mission has been to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music in Malawi and beyond borders.
How does your faith relate to your music?
In every album that the band produces, there is a hymn song in it. The band also tackles some social ills of our society.
How many WYDs have you been to?
The band has performed in Cologne, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Madrid, Spain in 2005, 2008 and 2011 respectively and it will be performing in Rio Brazil this June. In fact we are busy processing visas in Harare Zimbabwe. By God’s grace, we have a Malawian working in Harare who is busy working for us for free!
Are you going again, and if so what are you looking forward to?
We are going this year again. In fact just yesterday, Fr. Mario was talking about the next WYD. We were making predictions as to where it will take place. Ironically, the visas for Brazil are not yet out!
We look forward to meeting the Holy Father. We shall be proud to meet the third different pope in our music careers!
Tell us something interesting about yourselves.
While many bands educate masses with their songs, we have gone beyond the lyrics. Through our international tours, we have built a secondary school in Balaka and we support the four pillars of Andiamo Youth Cooperative Trust (AYCT) which we formed in 1984, which are Healthcare; Sports and Culture; Education and Social Development.
By the way, we also have a tour in Italy, which starts end June to fundraise for the Comfort Hospital which under Andiamo Youth Cooperative Trust!
Where can people hear your music?
We are on youtube!