.- Catholic actor Eduardo Verastegui was one of several speakers at an annual festival held at Walsingham, England during the country’s August bank holiday weekend. About 1,500 young people took part in the five day session of camping, music and Catholic renewal. Verastegui told the youthful audience that they were called to holiness in their everyday lives, according to a press release from Youth 2000. He also spoke to the young pilgrims about chastity.
He explained that after his conversion he refused film scripts that did not promote Christian values.
“I was without work for four years,” he said.
He told the audience he had felt called to become a missionary in the Brazilian jungle, but a priest told him “Hollywood is your jungle.”
Verastegui founded Metanoia Films, a company dedicated to producing films that are upbeat and promote virtue. The actor starred in Metanoia’s 2007 film “Bella” about the story of a young girl who was considering an abortion.
The festival was entirely youth-led and featured testimonies and prayer and worship in the style of the World Youth Days. There were also opportunities for small group discussion, sports and socializing.
Some attendees came from as far away as Germany and Spain.
Michelle Moran, a member of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, was another of the festival’s inspirational speakers. She told the audience that the Holy Spirit has been “poured into our lives” so that we can “grow in holiness.”
“And then in the spirit of Pentecost we can reach out to others and become agents of the new evangelization,” she continued.
Fr. Steven Langridge, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, was one of the many priests who celebrated Mass and heard confessions. In a homily he encouraged the young people to be generous in the discernment of their vocations.
“The world needs heroes!” he said.
Fr. Stephen Wang, chaplain to Youth 2000, told young people: “The holiness you have found here is also found in your parishes – live your faith in your parishes and allow it to come alive in your daily lives.”
Noel Murphy, the 31-year-old National Director of Youth 2000, said the group was “delighted” at the festival’s success.
“The number of young people who have attended for the first time and whose lives have been touched is quite moving. We are encouraging them to return to their parishes and get involved, to evangelize their friends, and continue living the Christian life rooted in the sacraments and prayer.”
“We are especially delighted that Eduardo Verastegui was able to join us,” Murphy continued. “It is hard to live your faith as a young Catholic and Eduardo’s talk was a strong encouragement to young people to stand up for their Christian values. Young people of this country need role models like Eduardo.”
The group Youth 2000, which sponsored the event, aims to provide a “gateway” back into the Church for those in their late teens and twenties who no longer practice their faith. The festivals are donation-only and introduce attendees to the basics of Catholic faith and prayer.
The next Youth 2000 festival is scheduled to take place in Carmarthen from October 30 to November 1. Organizers are seeking funds to finance their events.
More information on Youth 2000 is at http://www.youth2000.org.