Young Adult Ministry

Bokani during pilgrimage

Giving my faith a workout in the footsteps of St Ignatius

The Camino Ignaciano is a trail first trodden  by St Ignatius in 1522, wending through the hills of northern Spain between Loyola (near the Atlantic coast) and Manresa (on the Mediterranean side).  It normally takes four weeks.  Mount Street Jesuit Centre’s young adult ministry runs week-long  pilgrimages each June over four years so young working people can do it in short stages.

Bokani Tshidzu joined the pilgrimage last year and is participating again in 2016.  She tells her story.

"I spend a lot of time improving my professional skills and even my life skills but I had never spent the equivalent time improving my faith life.  My faith has been a kind of comfort blanket but before undertaking the pilgrimage I had never challenged it. I thought the pilgrimage would be a good way to give my faith a work out. 

The pilgrimage included reflections each morning and evening, where we could share how our day had gone, or what were our goals for the next day.  And there was always at least an hour of silent walking each day to focus on prayer.  Being aware of St Ignatius' own experiences in the landscape lead you to go deeper.

The thing I like about Ignatian spirituality is the structure. I am not very good at focussing on a single train of thought. With the spiritual exercises you don't have to first decide the rules by which you will focus on your prayer, as that  framework is provided, so it is easier to focus on your feelings and noticing God's presence.

So what changed?

Spending so much time in such a safe space means I am now more able to trust God to look after me if people let me down. I have been able to accept the good and the bad in my life story. I am now more confident asking for help with my faith.  It is no longer a separate part of my life which I just do once a week. I talk about  faith more in pubs and clubs, and I feel more in relationship with God.  Another lesson is that it is an ongoing process, I am looking for further growth, there is always more to pray for. 

The friendships I brought back are the biggest blessing.  The pilgrimage doesn't just stop when you get home.  Life may carry on but you are able to continue your spiritual journey with those who accompanied you. 

I still have big questions, which is why I am so grateful for the opportunity to make the next section of the pilgrimage this year."

Bokani's faith journey in London began at Farm St Church Young Adult Mass

Bokani Tshidzu has been attending the Young Adult Masses (held every Sunday evening) at Farm Street Church for three years.

“a friend first recommended I try the Farm St mass”, says Bokani, “the homilies were the first draw, so rooted in the real world, and I received such a warm welcome, everyone was relaxed, and I found it easy to talk to people my own age about God, which is hard to do in other contexts, such  as work or study.”

Bokani started to get involved in social justice volunteering via the Farm St SVP:  “for me this is a really significant part of my faith. Faith remains a lifestyle choice unless you are contributing to making the world a better place.  Where I grew up in Zimbabwe faith and social justice action went always  hand in hand, but until I came to Farm St I didn’t find this link in London.”

Young Adult Mass is for people under 40.  There is an active music and liturgy group and mass is always followed by a social where you will find a warm welcome.  For more information http://www.pathwaystogod.org/centres/mount-street-jesuit-centre/young-adults/young-adult-masses

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Try this Examen for young adults and share it with someone you know

Read more about Anouska Robinson-Biggin fcJ - Director of Young adult ministry

Sr Anouska Robinson-Biggin fCJ

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young adult ministry, young adults, Mount street, pilgrimage, faith