Welcome to our webpage!
The Twelve Youth Leadership Team was founded in May 2019 in order to give young people in the Diocese of Leeds the opportunity to engage more with the Church and share what they are passionate about. We are a team of young people from parishes across the Diocese of Leeds who have gathered together for prayer, fellowship and formation leading to our commissioning by Bishop Marcus which took place on National Youth Sunday 2019. We are working in collaboration with Bishop Marcus and are meeting him regularly to talk about Diocesan matters and priorities, giving a voice to young people across the Diocese.
“You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God.”
Pope Francis – World Youth Day, Panama, 2019
Caritas Leeds, Leeds Citizens and the Leeds Diocesan Youth Service are working together in partnership to help facilitate and provide ongoing formation to The Twelve. So far we have focused on leadership in scripture, general leadership and communication skills, general information about the Diocese, some of the structures, projects and key people within the Diocese. From this and listening to other young people in our areas, we have put together priorities that we would like to focus on this year that we feel are particularly relevant to young people across the Diocese of Leeds.
Our Latest Meeting…
On the 14th October we came together once again to tackle the decisions around our action plan regarding: Communication, Developing and Identity, Promoting Youth Participation in Local Parishes, and Moving Forward with the Education Department.
We started off with Graham Brownlee introducing us to a scenario regarding people with different social status and how these people would interact given a specific problem. This role play helped us to visualise a real life scenario and how to voice our opinions in a respectful way but firm enough to get our points across.
After this we split into 4 groups to tackle the four items in the action plan. Jayden, Becca, Calum and Elizabeth were each leaders for their designated bullet points. We pooled ideas together in order to create a realistic goal in a certain time frame.
Finally, we spent a considerable amount of time optimising the recruitment package and developing a strategy to promote nominations and sign ups. Jayden helped step up and direct this important mini meeting.
Our Name and Logo
We are named The Twelve, not necessarily for our number, but in inspiration of the small group of apostles who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transformed the history of the world when they took Christ’s Gospel to people all over the earth.
As part of our formation, one of the focuses was on leadership and effectively working as part of a team. One of the ways of looking at this was by examining the flying pattern of geese, which included flapping arms like geese for quite a while! The flock of geese fly in a ‘V’ formation as when each goose flaps, they create an uplift for the following geese which adds 71% greater flying range compared to when working alone. The whole flock develop a sense of common direction, each takes turns in doing the harder tasks, they are supported by the others, they stand by each other in difficult times as well as when they’re strong and they are also willing to ask for help when it is needed. This example of teamwork and leadership, as well as the great memory of flapping like geese meant that this was the perfect logo for us.
What We've Done So Far...
Since we began in May 2019 and were Commissioned at Leeds Cathedral by Bishop Marcus in November 2019, we have had regular meetings both in person and, since the pandemic, online. Throughout the first year, we spent a lot of time looking at scripture and examples of leadership in the Bible; learning more about the Diocese of Leeds, it’s work and mission; developing our leadership, teamwork and communication skills and making the links between the scripture that we read and the way that we lead.
Our main role is to give a voice to young people in Diocesan decision making and contributing towards key events and activities aimed at young people. As part of this, we were invited to look at the Review and Strategic Plan of the Leeds Diocesan Youth Service for the next three years and give our feedback. Looking at all that the Youth Service had achieved between 2016-19, seeing their plans for the next few years and being given the opportunity to openly give feedback, share ideas and help to shape their focus was a great opportunity and gave us the confidence that we, and our ideas, would actually be taken seriously.
We have been able to meet with Bishop Marcus to share our thoughts and ideas on various topics, as well as hearing from him what he would like us to focus on. Bishop Marcus asked us to talk to other young people and ask them: What lights your fire and what are you passionate about? In response to this, we put together a questionnaire and shared this with young people in our local areas to learn and understand what other young people view as important for the diocese to focus on. From this data and reflecting on key areas of the diocese, we decided on our priorities and areas to focus on.
The pandemic has brought about many challenges and for young people, this has meant not being able to interact with friends in person, moving between studying at school in the classroom and having to learn from home, the strain of being online all day and the anxieties of living through a global pandemic. In January 2021, Angela Cox OBE (Director of Education for the Diocese of Leeds) invited us to share our experiences, and those of others around us, of home learning, the positives and the negatives, so that she could then share this with the Diocesan Head Teachers. All the feedback that we gave was really well received and was also shared with Bishop Marcus who discussed this with the Secretary of State for Education.
The 2021-22 academic year began with a time of induction, formation and team building for the 14 new members of The Twelve who had been recruited in July 2021. There was a particular focus on the summary and purpose of The Twelve, how what the Bible teaches us relates to our role as The Twelve; our priorities of Social Action and Communication; and purposeful team building, leadership and communication skills sessions to help us grow together as a team. We had the opportunity to participate in the worldwide Synod: looking at the questions, breaking them down and sharing our thoughts on each question and on what level we agreed or disagreed with each question. In November, we looked at the Diocese’s Annual Review, discussing and writing up what we would like to send to the Director of Communications to be included about The Twelve.
Alongside our ongoing formation sessions, we looked at how we communicate and share about who we are and what we do, developed priority areas to take to the Justice and Peace Commission, linking these to Catholic Social Teaching; and played a significant role in the organisation of the Diocese of Leeds Eucharistic Procession, at which we delivered a reflection on Blessed Carlo Acutis and ran an exhibition sharing more about our work. We looked at Nehemiah, analysed how he was a leader and how he took what he saw, heard and felt and put this into action. Towards the end of the year we went to Savio House Retreat Centre on a residential to help us have specific time for us to get to know each other better, have time to pray together and round up the last year.
In our latest meeting, which took place on Sunday 16th October, we began with a session led by Graham from Leeds Citizens about power and how it can be used responsibly. We looked at the example of Jesus and other great leaders in history e.g. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, the Suffragettes etc. We looked into different types of meetings, ways of listening to others and the roles you might take in a meeting: the host, the chair, the timekeeper and the notetaker. In the meeting we talked about our website and social media page and put together practical suggestions for improving these to engage with more people and share more about what we do.
On Sunday 20th November 2022, the Feast of Christ the King and World Youth Sunday, we were commissioned by Bishop Marcus at the 11am Mass at Leeds Cathedral. Bishop Marcus spoke about leadership, rising up as leaders and putting Christ at the centre of our lives during his Homily. The Mass was followed by refreshments in Wheeler Hall where we had a display sharing more about us, our priorities and what we’re doing in the Diocese of Leeds.
The initial members of The Twelve were commissioned by Bishop Marcus in 2019, and this has been the first opportunity since the pandemic to come together for our commissioning and for existing members to be re-commissioned. Since its formation, there have been 26 young people from across the Diocese serving as members of The Twelve.
On Saturday 10th December, at our meeting, we started with a prayer led by Jayden and an icebreaker led by Calum. We went on to review resources to by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), thinking what was good and what we could improve. Then we planned our residential to Savio House in January and discussed our more regular social media posts. After this, we created a 1 minute video to be shown at FLAME on Saturday 4th March at Wembley Arena. We then discussed a new project making short reflections for “The Twelve’s Days of Christmas” to be posted each of the 12 Days of Christmas. After discussing, and seeing who might be attending World Youth Day, we were reminded to ask at least 5 people our 2 questions on our priorities: social action and communication. Finally, we ended the meeting with a short prayer.
On Saturday 25th March 2023 we met together, began our meeting in prayer and an icebreaker led by Jayden. After that, we reflected on our meeting with the Justice and Peace Commission, which was held the previous gathering, and thought about the next steps that we’d make to move our priorities forward, including drafting a letter to the Director and Deputy Director of Education for the Diocese of Leeds. We went on to talk about our online presence and how it could be improved. Following this, we looked at decision making and how we make choices as a group, looking particularly at the scenario of refugees leaving their homes. Finally, we ended the meeting in prayer.
On Saturday 24th June we gathered together with Bishop Marcus, meeting with him to share an overview of what we have done so far, sharing some of our current priorities, discussing future plans and hearing what Bishop Marcus would like from us. We discussed:
- What ways of communication works for us and the people of the diocese? And how we can improve this, to allow both Bishop Marcus’ messages and the Twelve’s messages to be spread amongst the diocese.
- Our experience of our relationship with Christ : for example, our personal practices of how we as young people ‘encounter’ Christ.
- What influences our lives as young people today? And the importance of our faith to us as young Catholics.
We had updates from the Advisory group about meeting with Mgr Andrew Summersgill, the Moderator of the Curia, and we moved our letter to the Director, and Deputy Director, of Education inviting them to help us move some priorities forward.
Our Two Priorities
To help us focus our efforts, we spent time together looking at various aspects of the diocese. These were Parish Life, Finance, Social Action, Music, Communications and Leeds Cathedral. Our facilitators gave us two minute presentations to give us an overview of each area and then in small groups, we had lively discussions. Each group ranked the 6 areas and once we came together again and shared these, it was clear that Social Action and Communication took priority for us.
All of us and many of our friends too, are really concerned about climate change, homelessness, poverty and injustice. We know that many young people are involved with social action charities, but often not within the church. We know that within our Diocese there are groups working for social action such as Caritas Leeds, SVP, CAFOD and the Justice and Peace Commission, but unless, for example, you’re involved with a Youth SVP group at your school, you probably don’t know much about what they do. We would like to find out more about the social action that is already happening in the Diocese of Leeds so that we can help young people engage with it more and develop youth leadership within these organisations.
We also felt that communications was a really important issue, especially for young people. As Christians sharing the Good News is our job and although this can be done in lots of ways, the methods that are used to communicate about our faith, about parish and diocesan events and about wider issues are crucial if people are going to feel included and valued. We would like to find out more about the work of the Diocese of Leeds Director of Communications and how we might be able to encourage more young people to get involved in spreading the word about all the good work of the Church and how we can better reach out to those at the margins.
We have met with key figures within the Diocese for both of our priorities which was really successful. They were all very interested in what we had to say and were open to hearing our feedback and suggestions. Having met with these key figures, we are putting together an Action Plan to guide us in these priorities and we are really looking forward to meeting with these groups again to further develop these priorities.
We want to accurately represent the ideas and voice of the young people within our diocese as a whole and so we try to consult others as much as possible.
In the past, this has been through physical questionnaires that we’ve asked people to fill in as well as some online methods of allowing other young people to have their say. One way we aim to reach out to young people in our diocese is via our Instagram page, which is the best way to stay updated.
Using our Instagram, Twitter and the Leeds Diocesan Youth Service social media pages, we aim to promote our work and encourage more young people to engage and interact with us.
The Twelve Trailer
Take a look at our trailer for a snapshot of The Twelve: who we are, what we do, what we have done and some of the random fun we have during our meetings together!
This trailer was premiered at FLAME, the largest Catholic youth event in England and Wales, at the OVO Arena in Wembley on Saturday 4th March 2023 in front of 8000 young people! The theme of the day was #RiseUp and we were all encouraged to stand up, to speak out and, as Cardinal Tagle said: ‘to help make the Church strong, to make the Church vibrant and to make the Church the kind of Church that we would like to see and that God wants to see.’
We really believe that young people in our Diocese can ‘Rise Up’ to this challenge and help shape the Church in the Diocese of Leeds!
Let Us Dream Conference
On Thursday 15th April, we were given the opportunity to present at the Online International Conference based on Pope Francis’ book: Let Us Dream. The conference was called ‘A Politics Rooted In The People’ and even Pope Francis sent a video message for the event.
We presented a video about our experiences as part of The Twelve, what we’ve been doing, our development and what it’s like working in collaboration with Bishop Marcus. We also touched on how the pandemic has affected us and other young people.
It was a great opportunity to share our story and we hope that it inspires others to listen to the voice of young people in their decision making.