John McAreavey due to address youth conference at Thornhill

John McAreavey, adressing a congregation St. Eugene's Cathedral in Derry during a Novena in May this year. DER1915MC060
John McAreavey, adressing a congregation St. Eugene's Cathedral in Derry during a Novena in May this year. DER1915MC060

Around 120 people have gathered at Thornhill College for a Conference on Youth Ministry at today.

Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown and John McAreavey were due to speak at the event.

The Diocese of Derry is hosting the full day conference, with representatives from all 49 parishes in the diocese in attendance today.

The theme of the event is ‘Developing Faith in our Young People ‘and its central focus will be the creation of parish opportunities for youth ministry.

The day is aimed at offering parishes, schools, youth groups and other delegates the opportunity to unite in faith, develop relationships with other parishes and groups, and gain insights into a variety of programmes, initiatives and tasks relating to youth ministry.

Mr McAreavey, whose wife Michaela was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius in January 2011, was due to be keynote speaker.

Opportunities for shared practice, discussion and identifying challenges were also to be explored today.

Bishop Donal McKeown was due to open the conference and celebrate the Eucharist this morning.

Those gathered will throughout today take part in a series of workshops on various topics, including the Pope John Paul II Award, Children’s Liturgy, Contemporary Liturgical Music and Youth Choirs, SVP, Youth Alpha and Youth Liturgies.

There are also workshops on Meditation, Shared Future and Youth Pilgrimages, including information on the upcoming Pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.

Youth Link NI will present details of training opportunities for all conference delegates and the Derry Youth Community will share their vision as well as provide information on what they offer to schools and parishes.

The conference has been billed as a key event for adults interested in developing opportunities for young people to grow in faith through school, parish or in youth groups, while also being beneficial to parish pastoral councils and steering groups.

It will be used to develop a plan for Youth Ministry in the year ahead.

Young people aged 15-18 have also been also invited to attend the Conference free of charge.

The Derry Youth Community will deliver a parallel programme for part of the day with this key group.

The Derry Youth Community is a group of five young people committed to living in community and to serving in Youth Ministry through the schools and parishes in the Diocese in the year ahead.