Our story is about how one young English man’s response to Pope John Paul II’s call in 1989 changed the world.
At World Youth Day in 1989 Pope John Paul II said to the 400,000 young people who had gathered from around the world “It is up to you young people that the task first falls of bearing witness to the faith and bringing into the Third Millennium the Gospel of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life”.
But to whom does the task fall to bring this message to those who are not at World Youth Day, who do not go to Mass on Sunday and who do not even know that God exists?
This question led Englishman Ernest Williams to respond to this need by forming Youth 2000. Youth 2000 was formed because a young English man responded to the greatest poverty of our times; a generation of young people living in the spiritual poverty of not knowing that they were created in the image and likeness of God.
Immediately after World Youth Day in 1989, Ernest made a pilgrimage to Fatima. It was there during a period of prayer and reflection in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the structure and format for what Youth 2000 was to do became clear. Through a rediscovery of Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Scriptures, Sacrament of Reconciliation and Devotion to Mary the Mother of God, and the Church’s teaching, young people would discover the unique calling that they had to live as Christians.
Ernest began to gather young people together in prayer, and soon this initiative, known as Youth 2000, spread to more than 25 countries all over the world, changing the lives of thousands of young people. Youth 2000 commenced in Ireland in 1993.