theASCENT is a three-year discipleship process for young Catholics in years 10-13 who want to embrace their faith and learn how to share it with others. First launched in 2013, the process runs in several locations around the UK, led by a competent team of around 80 volunteers who give over 15,000 hours a year to support the young people in their journeys.
There are three primary components to the process for the participants:
- Three residential weekends per year providing opportunities for teaching and formation in the Catholic faith, encounter with Jesus Christ, personal prayer, and envisioning their next steps.
- Weekly ‘PoDs’ (Pockets of Disciples) which are small groups who meet together online for a consistent experience of fellowship and formation.
- Monthly 1-to-1 mentoring giving a space for bespoke discipleship facilitated by a trained team member to meet the individual needs of each young person.
Our formation materials are written by qualified individuals with rich expertise in their given area. These areas include, but are not limited to: Catholic Social Teaching, Scripture, Sacraments, Theology of the Body, Charisms, and Apologetics. Participants also receive training in leadership, communication, and reflective skills, as well as developing their character and relationships. We are also committed to investing in our team's discipleship growth and as such we hold a yearly training weekend for all three location teams to come together, as well as spending an additional optional weekend away together for fellowship, rest, and prayer.
We currently accept 12 young people per year in each of our locations, and 6 from our Richmond partnership. To date over 170 young people have completed the process, and around 80 participate at any one time. We encourage our young people to serve their localities through involvement with their parish and other Catholic organisations. Our alumni have gone on to serve the wider Church by entering full time ministry post-college and working at a national level with Catholic bodies including CYMFed, Social Action Charities, Catholic Dioceses, and Catholic Student Network.
We are proud to be partnered with the Sion Catholic Community for Evangelism in Brentwood, Essex; the Benedictine community at Worth Abbey, Sussex; and the Cor et Lumen Christi community in Wigton, Cumbria and Youth Ministry Team at Castlerigg Manor, Keswick.
The communities at these 3 locations; Sion Community, Worth Abbey and Castlerigg Manor, provide a home for the 3 residential weekends per year. Young people will attend a location depending on their proximity to it.
We have also formed a diocesan partnership with the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton, who are committed to funding bursaries for young people from the diocese who attend the Worth Abbey location.
Last year, we formed our first parish partnership with St Elizabeth of Portugal in Richmond, London. This marked a new chapter in the life of theASCENT, allowing the entire process to take place in-person.