The Catenians


Engaging with Young People

Publish Date: Wed 24th Jan 2018

Engaging with Young People

It’s been a busy, and successful, year for the Church and its work with young people, as Phil Brown, Director of Province One and upcoming Vice President of the Catenians, knows only too well

Phil has led much of the work on public speaking competitions and youth initiatives through Manchester’s Catholic chaplaincy, and is a firm believer in reaching out to young people.

“It’s absolutely paramount as they need our support in the secular world we live in,” he says. “Often youth gets a bad press but to see so many committed young people at all the events in the past year has been tremendous. These youngsters give encouragement to their peers and are shining examples to all, so why would we not want to reach out to help them?”

Looking back over the last 12 months, Phil points to Flame in London as a special success. In March 2017, we sponsored and assisted with Flame which was the largest Catholic event in the UK and attracted more than 10,000 young Catholics to the SSE Arena in Wembley.

He says: “[One highlight] in particular was the response by Circles and Provinces in helping to provide tickets for less fortunate youngsters, as well as transport to London. It had the effect of involving the Catenian Association in liaising with diocesan coordinators for youth, distributing tickets and making contact. As a result, many diocesan youth committees now have a representative from the Association.”

Flame image

Flame was the largest gathering of Catholics in the UK. Thank you to ©Mazur/ for the photos

“Our National Public Speaking competition has developed with nearly all the Provinces holding provincial competitions and sending competitors to the National Final in Manchester.”

public speaking

Public speaking finalists 2017

Another popular event was Embrace, a gathering of young people in Liverpool. These Catholic youth conferences are organised by young people for young people and afford them the opportunity to deepen their faith, learn more about it, and network with like-minded people. They take place at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

 “Often our perception of youth engagement with the Church is based on seeing the congregations at our local churches where attendance is quite low. However, when you see 1,000 or 2,000 showing up and practising their faith, it shows a different picture.”


The Catenians helped sponsor Embrace and supported the event on the day. Thank you to ©Mazur/ for the photos.

So, what do Phil and the people he works with have planned for 2018?

“In terms of initiatives we are led by requests. In 2017 we asked for and received requests for the initiatives undertaken. This year we hope to post these on our website to encourage Circles and Provinces to use the examples and start initiatives in their areas.”

He adds: “Further development of links with university chaplaincies is a priority, both to promote the Bursary Fund and to forge links with Circles. One priest in Manchester said: ‘I see the Catenians as role models for the students, seeing themselves in a few years’ time. Your expertise, knowledge and practice of your faith are wonderful examples.’”

In addition, Phil is working on developing links with other Catholic organisations working with youth in order to extend the profile of the Catenians.