Calling us back to mission

Prayer guides team for Newman House
Prayer guides team for Newman House

The Jesuits in Britain spirituality outreach team is getting down to its busiest time of year with programmes of retreats in daily life in university chaplaincies as well as with youth workers, school chaplains and parishes.

Last week saw the Newman House (Catholic chaplaincy) Retreat in Daily Life for students from London Universities, led by a team of prayer guides which included FCJ sisters, a Jesuit scholastic and trained lay people.

“We had around 50 students participating, and (possibly) the world's youngest team of prayer guides! [pictured] The whole week was hugely fruitful and there was a palpable feel to the air in the Catholic chaplaincy during the week as the whole community, whether participating in the retreat or not, prayed through it,” commented retreat director Iona Reid-Dalgleish.

The following week saw the team in Durham where the retreat was opened to members of the wider community. "It was a wonderfully ecumenical, and inter-generational retreat with parishioners, university students and local residents of Durham encouraged by people who had participated and enjoyed it last year. The feedback was universally positive, with a real buzz around the chaplaincy of St Cuthbert's Church where we were based," commented Iona 

A week of guided prayer or retreat in daily life follows a similar pattern whatever the group.  The curious faithful, those who have wondered about prayer – am I doing it “right”? how could prayer be more fulfilling? are questions frequently asked – come together for an initial talk and shared prayer time.  Each participant then has the opportunity to meet with a trained prayer guide for 15-30 minutes each day during the week, and tries to set aside between 30 and 60 minutes a day for personal prayer.  New ways of praying are explored, according to the person’s needs.  This might include praying with scripture or imaginative contemplation – putting yourself into a bible scene alongside Christ, and seeing what unfolds.

There is a final workshop and sharing on the last day.

Finding the good pasture

Retreat in daily life participants from DurhamStephen Hoyland, (pictured above in the centre of the back row) who leads the university outreach team said “Each of these weeks has made possible a retreat for people who otherwise would not have made one.  Lacking money, or time, or confidence to send themselves to a retreat house, the retreat team is able to come to them. We send some of them to the spirituality centres and retreat houses as a next step.  We watch as Jesus calls many more back to mission, more confident, more clear, more empowered and healed and joyful.

“We've been able to make use of prayer guides who have trained but never or rarely had opportunity to practise. Perhaps 50 of these “hidden gems” over the last year. Those prayer guides are a harvest, people with a gift for being in the field and a great desire to find the 99 sheep struggling to find good pasture, and give to them what God gave to St Ignatius who gave it to the Jesuits, who gave it to us, that we might give it to them.”

If you would like to host retreat in daily life in your parish or ministry, please get in touch with the co-ordinator.