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Jesuit assesses new Ireland at youth festival

Knock Summer Youth Festival“The atmosphere is great – it’s like Mayo’s answer to the Oxegen music festival.” So said Ann Lee, the Youth Ministry Director at Knock Shrine, talking about the Knock Summer Youth Festival, attended this year by nearly 1,000 young people from all over Ireland. And it wasn’t all fun and games. Many of the participants turned up to hear Michael Paul Gallagher SJ, of the Gregorian University in Rome, as he spoke about the “ambiguous power” of new culture on the imagination and about Ireland’s rapid transition from modernity to post-modernity. “As WB Yeats said,” Fr Gallagher continued, “the ‘unity of culture fragments’ in a society where there is a lack of anchoring. We can look at this whole new scene and react in an aggressive way, we can sulk, or, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “readiness is all”, and we can respond with generosity and with our own disposition.”