Stonyhurst pupils Finding God on retreat

On Thursday 19th April boys and girls in Rudiments (Year 8) at Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall went to Whalley Abbey for their annual retreat.

The theme was 'Finding God in All things'. The day was a wonderful opportunity for the pupils to deepen their relationship with God, to spend time away from their everyday  school environment and to come to know themselves more intimately.

The group was joined by Franciscans from Leeds and Bradford: Fr Chris McBride, and Sisters Faustina and Therese. The day was led by Mary Farmer and, through a series of prayer stations, the children reflected on Finding God through Meditation, Art, Scripture, Others, our Senses, Mercy and Forgiveness. These stations reflected the theme of the day, raising awareness that God is present in all things: in the small, the simple, in creation and in our own brokenness.

The group was blessed with warm sunny weather and the beautiful grounds provided a wonderful setting for the 'senses walk'.

The sacrament of reconciliation or a blessing was available to pupils during the ‘Mercy, Meditation and finding God in Others’ station. This, in particular, included elements of Ignatian spirituality and the school’s Jesuit mission such as the Examen, Imaginative prayer and being Men and Women for Others by seeing Christ in all people. "The Mercy station showed us that whatever we do or get wrong, God is always there to forgive us" commented Charlotte, one of the pupils.

Experiencing God's presence in the beauty of nature allowed the group to reflect on how they are able to care for our common home (Finding God through our senses) and to give expression to that through art.

The day concluded with Mass in the chapel, Sr Therese playing the guitar accompanied by Mr Mann on the organ, with the children adding the hymn "In Christ alone" to their repertoire.

“It was a privilege and thoroughly enjoyable working with Year 8s Rudiments and all the school staff, including Clare McCullough, the Lay Chaplain at St Mary’s Hall, for the retreat day” said Mary Farmer. “It was wonderful to see the students trying different ways of praying, including  through guided scripture meditation, based on John's Gospel where they heard the invitation of Jesus to 'come and see'.”

During the day there was an opportunity for the children to get to know the Franciscan guests, their work for the homeless in the Leeds and Bradford areas and their lives of vocation and service. Lou and Oliver, two of the participants, were grateful for the team of organizers and for the retreat overall. “The Franciscans explained their lives of complete service with no material rewards which was a different way of living to what we are used to! They were easy to talk to and be open with. We enjoyed being outside in the beautiful grounds with friends."