The latest edition of the Youth Outings took place in Athlone the weekend of the 17th and 18th of November. With record participation, it was the event of the month, attracting youths from three hemispheres and six countries. The weekend’s activities got underway on Saturday with a brief review of material from “Theology and Sanity”. Then followed the Rosary and Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Ockerse. After the spiritual nourishment, followed much-needed physical nourishment in the form of lunch and, of course, tea. The first conference of the day, given by Fr. Ockerse, was a continuation of his previous conference on the Beatitudes. The talk focused on the second Beatitude “Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth”. There is no coincidence with God, and, unknown to us at the time, the relevance of the virtue of meekness was to be proven most dramatically the following day. Next came a trip to the bowling alley which was a first for some members of the group. Between balls bouncing down lanes, and pins stalwart and unyielding despite players’ most concentrated efforts to knock them down, great fun and conversation was had by all. From the dark and loud bowling alley, the group returned to the bright, silent parish hall of Corpus Christi Church, where Charlie Byrne, resident composer and choir director of St. John’s parish in Dublin, presented a second, mind-opening conference on the structure of music and the hows and whys of the sounds and chords. The conference concluded, flurried preparations began for the much-anticipated event of the night, the table quiz. After hours of planning, cleaning, decorating, cooking, and practicing for party-pieces, the stage was set. Unfortunately, however, the number of actors on the stage was quite limited; the number of guests came to a grand total of six. Deterred but not defeated, the stagehands themselves decided to participate, and after a delicious meal of various appetizers masterminded by rising Longford chef Michael Sherry, the quiz began. Debate about correct answers was fierce both between team members and other teams. Many topics presented challenges even to the combined efforts of team members. Interspersed among the topics were various party-pieces presented by members of the Youth Group as well as guests. The crowd was treated to poetry recitations, and traditional music from Ireland, France, Germany, and Australia. In the end, a champion was declared in the team of Charlie Byrne, Kevin Glennon, Seán Hogan, and Mark Wagner. The prizes however were awarded to the faithful few guests of the evening. Everyone helped with the clean-up before retiring to Court Devenish for the night. The next morning, Sunday, we said morning prayers and had our morning tea and coffee before singing the High Mass at Corpus Christi Church. We all then ate lunch before venturing out to play rounders. A very heated match finished in a 17-17 tie with much experience gained both in the sport and the practice of meekness. The events concluded with a final cup of tea and closing remarks by Fr. Ockerse before the youths wended their ways home to reunite another day.
E-chronicle by Kevin Quain.