I too am now filled with great joy
Hey everyone, hope you are keeping well! My name is Maura Garrihy and I am 22 years old. I live in a lovely part of the country-Ennistymon in County Clare to be exact and I have just completed my degree in Theology and Business in St. Patrick's College, Maynooth! I attended my first ever Youth 2000 retreat over 6 years ago and I can honestly say it was one of the BEST decisions of my life. I was blessed to be brought up in a Catholic family but I truly hadn't experienced a personal encounter with Christ until my first Youth 2000 retreat.
I remember being nervous about it and the thought of attending a retreat for the whole weekend was very daunting to say the least, but there was something within me that told me I wouldn't regret going so I convinced a friend to come along too and before I knew it I did not want to leave! Looking back I really did not know what to expect and could never have imagined that it would be such a life-changing experience. My first impression from the weekend was that everyone was so happy and joyful-their faith was so important to them, I wanted that same joy in the Lord and this was my prayer throughout the retreat. God must have heard me because I too now am filled with that same joy! It is an invaluable experience to spend a whole weekend with fellow Christians and to realise that you are not alone in your beliefs, the amount of happiness I had in my heart leaving that weekend was overwhelming and a memory that will stay with me forever.
Before Youth 2000 I had a great emptiness inside and I was very unhappy and I tried to find the 'answer' to this in so many other places, what I was missing in my life was God. Through Youth 2000 retreats I have found that there is someone you can rely on to be there for you, through the good and the bad times-that person is God.....all we have to do is invite Him into our lives with an open heart. My life has definitely changed for the better since and I now have a purpose in life. My faith makes me the person that I am today and praise God for that! In February, four years ago, I set up the Ennistymon Youth 2000 Prayer Group and it is so rewarding and heartening to see a group of young people praying together.
God can bring so much happiness to the lives of all those who openly say YES to Him and for this reason alone I strongly encourage you to come to Clonmacnois, I promise you will never look back. I think my favourite parts to the weekend are the healing and reconciliation service and hearing the testimonies. The healing and reconciliation service is very powerful and, like everything else at the festival, if you enter it with an open heart and mind God will really touch your heart and really heal you, you truly experience God's forgiveness. Its also very encouraging to hear the testimonies of other young people who have such joy in their hearts since they have found God, some have changed their lifestyles greatly and the Holy Spirit is so evident when they speak, they are living witnesses to Christ and offer such hope for us all. If I could summarise Youth 2000 retreats in 5 words it would be WOW, amazing, joyful, overwhelming and life-changing.
God bless and guide you always,Maura xx