By Elizabeth Challand - March 1st, 2023 | Posted in News No comments

Just under 10,000 young Catholics will gather in London at Wembley’s OVO Arena this Saturday, 4 March, to celebrate Flame – the National Youth Congress, including a group from our Diocese. 

Organised by CYMFed, the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation of England and Wales, this youth mega event has been described by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, as: “Fantastic… full of energy, interest, but also prayer – with a deep quietness at times which, to me, has always been the real inner heart of Flame.” 

Catholic leaders 

Cardinal Nichols will be speaking alongside a roster of high-calibre speakers including Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and a Pro-prefect in the Vatican’s Dicastery of Evangelization, and Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB of Perth.  

Award-winning performers 

Award-winning rapper Guvna B, a huge hit at Flame 2019, takes to the stage as does talented singer-songwriter Adenike, who made such a big impression on ITV’s The Voice. She goes from audience to big stage having once attended Flame with her parish. 

One Hope Project, a creative collective encouraging fresh expressions of worship in the Catholic Church, will be performing, as will Faith Child, a MOBO and multi-award-winning rapper. 

Fighting “Forever Chemicals” 

Ohio lawyer Robert Bilott is in town to raise awareness of so-called “forever chemicals” – dangerous chemicals that have been dumped into the environment and, worryingly, are found in 99% of humans. Robert has won many accolades for his work litigating against big companies such as DuPont. His story even caught the eye of Hollywood heavyweight Mark Ruffalo and was made into the film Dark Waters, with Robert played by the renowned actor. Ahead of Flame, Robert spoke to the Bishops’ Conference about how excited he was to be speaking to thousands of young Catholics: 

“I’m just really looking forward to being able to speak to young people. I speak to different college groups in universities across the US, because these are the people that have the passion and that are going to make change – they’re going to see this through. 

“They’re much more attuned to a lot of these issues than folks in our generation and I love to see that passion. I love to see people who realise that they can make a difference. One person standing up, speaking out, saying, ‘you know what, we can change this – it can happen.’” 

Charity and Clarity 

Brenden Thompson and Georgia Clarke from Catholic Voices will speak about the need to talk with ‘charity and clarity’ about the Church and how the organisation was set up after Pope Benedict’s visit in 2010 to improve the Church’s representation in the media, and Therese Withers, a Catholic artist, will be lighting up Flame with her artwork and images.