A special guest came with his family to Mass yesterday. Burnley manager Owen Coyle had been invited by one of the delegates who knows him. It always impresses me when you discover that "famous" people are practising Catholics. It's a great example to the youngsters who are knowledgeable about football to look up just before Mass starts and watch a Premier League manager walk towards the front of the church, genuflect and take his pew with his family. Afterwards, he mingled with some of the football fans and had his picture taken (which will hopefully appear on Facebook at some point).
Numbers were slightly down on last year by about 30 or 40, but that didn't prevent a fantastic atmosphere developing. People caught up with old friends and made new ones. There was a strong sense of prayer during the liturgies and the sound of carols in the chapel is something special. For most people, the religious side of Christmas (if they are remotely interested in it) ends on Boxing Day. But for Catholics, Christmas Day lasts eight days and the Masses reflect this with the Gloria, the Eucharistic Prayer I and the carols. Many of the youngsters would probably not go to Mass during the Octave of Christmas (apart from on Sunday). To experience the continuation of The Nativity is a great blessing.
With so many priests and three religious sisters in attendance at a conference on the theme of the priesthood, it is likely that every young person over the last two days (whether it be girls or lads) would have thought about their vocation at some point. In an age that to frown on full commitment to Jesus Christ, this can only be a good thing.
I'm afraid I can't write anything more before crashing out but there will be more to follow tomorrow evening all being well.