Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: For the Greater Glory of God
Last weekend a group of novices, led by Fr Simon Bishop SJ, took part in ‘The Release: Light up the Sky’ a young adults’ retreat weekend organized by Youth 2000. Hosted at St Bernard’s Catholic High School, Rotherham, it was a welcome trip ‘up north’ and there was a great atmosphere throughout the weekend, not only among our group but also among the entire 180-or-so young people who attended.
The retreat involved periods of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, along with praying the rosary and a series of motivational talks on a range of faith issues. There were also Masses concelebrated by many priests from across the Hallam and Leeds dioceses along with religious and local bishops. In addition, the priests and religious were always present in the corners of the main room, constantly available for the sacrament of reconciliation. This ‘sacramental backbone’ to the weekend made it a very powerful and moving place to be, especially for ourselves as young men in the very early stages of training to become priests.
We attended as participants but soon we were involved in helping out, leading some decades of the rosary on Saturday morning and, perhaps most movingly, taking part in ‘Prayer Ministry’. This involved listening to the prayer intentions of the other young people present and praying alongside them. These moments of prayerful accompaniment were a special point in the weekend for all of us. Along with the influential talks and homilies we heard from local priests such as Fr Lee Marshall and Fr Leonard May, we all left feeling very affirmed in our vocation.
I, personally, found inspiration in the wonderful job the Youth 2000 leadership team, all young people themselves, had done in organizing such a major event. It was consoling not only to meet so many committed young Catholics but to get a sense of how they are (and no doubt will continue to be) powerful witnesses and enablers of our faith. They were helped in their task by warm hospitality from local parishioners who gave the foreign guys in our group a great taste of Yorkshire with regular cups of tea, a sizzling chicken curry and, of course, a delicious steak pie and mushy peas for our leaving dinner on the Sunday afternoon!
We Jesuit novices left ‘on a high’, affirmed in our sense of vocation, of being at the service of the Church, and also in our own sense of community, having spent a really inspiring weekend together, united in prayer and joy.
Laus Deo Semper: Praise God Always