Headline: Youth in community
Source: The Church Times
Marrick Priory Residential Youth Centre is set in mid-Swaledale in North Yorkshire, towards the northern end of the Diocese of Ripon. There have been buildings on the site for 825 years.
Surrounded by some of England’s most beautiful countryside, the redundant priory church caught the imagination of some of the local clergy and laity; and, with the support of the then Archdeacon of Richmond, a scheme was devised and the present establishment took its first visitors in 1970. With the arrival of the first priest/warden in 1971 the number of groups visiting the priory increased until now nearly 2,500 young people, in about eighty groups, come annually.
Originally it was anticipated that young people would come for weekends and holiday periods in the warmer months, but the demand was such that full central heating was installed and the centre is now open all the year round. The cities and industrial areas of Yorkshire and the North-East were seen as the original areas from which young people would come, though, during a year, visitors come from all over England and some from abroad.
The priory provides full board for groups of up to thirty-eight people who pursue a variety of activities but who, in a sense, are following closely the ideals of the first residents, the nuns. These were community life, learning, worship, hospitality and a pioneering spirit.
Just as the nuns lived in community together, so today’s young residents experience the joys and problems of living together and the necessity of tolerance, understanding and consideration of those around them.
Learning is also part of the Marrick experience, ranging from pre- and post-confirmation courses, retreats and Christian conferences of all kinds to environmental and field studies for schools and outdoor pursuits including canoeing, potholing, rock climbing, orienteering and fell-walking.
At the heart of many visits lies worship, often prepared (under guidance) by the young people themselves. A warm, welcoming Christian atmosphere, good food, a comfortable bed, are all seen as part of essential hospitality.
The spirit of adventure which was in the hearts of the twelfth-century residents still exists today, when young people come away from their normal surroundings and enter a new situation, try new activities and learn new ideas and skills. Young Christians can then go back to their homes, schools and work filled with new experiences and with a new vision.
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