18 December 2023

A weekend to remember

What is the mission statement of your life?  A group of 34 young women gathered together,22-24 September 2023, in Glasgow to explore their own answer to that question. They came from London, Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin, Galway, and Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands. The weekend gathering was held at DHEF’s conference centre, Hazelwood House, with the aim of taking a deep dive into how to live a life of true freedom with confidence and conviction.


Commitment was a major theme of the weekend. There are so many challenges in the world and if we are looking for solutions, commitment holds the key; commitment to friendships, to family, to relationships and ultimately to God.

Sinead, a chemistry student, said: “The talk on commitment was important because there is such a lack of it in our generation.  We have to tackle this, driven by conviction and not by emotions.”


Communication was another important topic of the weekend.  Talking about faith and values to peers at school or university, or to colleagues at work, can be daunting. Georgia Clarke, formerly of Catholic Voices, gave a training session on how to explain faith and values with confidence, clarity and charity.

Catholic Voices has developed an approach known as “reframing”, which enables Catholics to present their faith without becoming defensive or aggressive. The starting point is to meet people where they are and find points of agreement.  A vital message from Georgia was that people may not remember what we say, but they will remember how we made them feel.

Georgia Clarke

Sinead said: “Georgia’s talk made me think how important is is that we, as young Catholics, are out there meeting with others and being witnesses. Important, because it made us think about how we can better engage with people and create spaces where belief can flourish.”

Role models

We all need role models to inspire us. Not many of us have the experience of living with a saint, but Esperanza Ballester is one such person. She shared the story of her son Pedro who died of bone cancer in 2018, aged 21. Pedro’s life is now inspiring people around the world to ask for his help from heaven.

Esperanza with Pedro, his brother, and her husband

“We were all very moved by Esperanza’s talk,” said Sinead. “She advised us to be ourselves, to trust and to love. We must be the people God created us to be, because we can’t be anyone else. We mustn’t worry, but leave everything in God’s hands.”

Fun and friendship

This was a weekend dealing with some of life’s big issues, but also a time of fun and friendship. There was lots of sharing stories and experiences, exploring Glasgow, singing round the piano and, for some, reminiscing about World Youth Day.

Changing the world

By Sunday afternoon Hazelwood House was buzzing with women ready to set out on their mission to change the world! For one young woman the weekend was “a reminder about the current we are swimming against - identifying problems I’m experiencing now.” For another, the weekend helped her to learn “how to respond lovingly to differing opinions.” For others the weekend was a chance to “look at myself and my attitude to commitment with a critical view to improve” and to “think of some improvements I can make in my life and circumstances."

For Sinead the way forward was clear, “God wants us to change the world by helping our friends and bringing others to Him.”

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