The beginnings of the Nottingham Diocesan Catholic Youth Service can be traced back to the 1960s when Lady Albermarle produced a report on the ‘Training of part-time Youth Leaders’. A National College was established in Leicester to train people in youth work and a Catholic Youth Service Council emerged in partnership with local authorities. In our own diocese, retreats for boys had been taking place for some time at Mount St Mary’s College, Spinkhill, many parishes had youth clubs and the Diocesan Youth Committee did valiant work all over the diocese.
Supported by Bishop Ellis, this committee decided that a residential facility was needed to further the work so, after much hard work and perseverance led by Fr Paul Klee, The Briars opened for business in September 1969.
The Youth Service has subsequently grown and gone through several phases of life. Until recently it has been led by a diocesan priest and has included other priests as assistant directors, lay men and women as area youth officers, assistant directors, Briars Retreat Centre support staff and armies of volunteers.
The Youth Service now comprises The Briars Catholic Youth Retreat Centre, reach4 outreach team, and training and advice offered supports and complements the work undertaken in parishes and schools throughout the diocese.
The Briars is acknowledged as one of the foremost providers of retreats for young people and welcomes over 5000 young people a year. Reach4 outreach ministry started in 2007 and has quickly become established as a powerful ministry in our parishes and schools. New training courses are being developed and offered to help the growth in peer ministry. Several parishes are involved in employing local youth workers and there are increasingly strong links between the Youth Service and other Diocesan commissions such as Education and schools, school chaplains, Eucharistic Ministers, Safeguarding and many more. The prominent place the Youth Service has occupied for the past 40 or so years is only getting more significant as we work in the diocese to lead young people to Christ.