Monday, 21 April 2008

Mission Accomplished

Well, we're back from Hull! I think all of us would agree that it was a very blessed mission. The support we received from the priests and parishioners in Hull was amazing. Each day we went out on the city streets with the crucifix leading the way as we prayed for the people of Hull. Having this visible sign of our faith with us, I think, gave us a certain boldness and an identity. We gave out leaflets for our Saturday Event, "Why be Catholic" and tried to spark conversation with passersby. In a way it this was bit harder than in Soho. Even though the people in Hull are very friendly, they seem less likely to speak about faith. But we were blessed with some good encounters too.

I have to mention the lovely welcome we received at St. Joseph's, St. Charles' and St. Wilfred's. I don't think we've ever felt so at home! Even though we were coming as complete strangers, we looked after so well by our host that we left feeling like part of the family. A huge thank you to Fr. William, Cannon Michael, Fr. Stephen, James, Ella, Leona, Michelle, Jessica, Sr. Brenda, Sr. Catherine, Sr. Patricia, Margery, Walter and Patrick.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Finding true life...

Last Sunday was vocations Sunday. As well as living together in Christian community and studying our Catholic faith, part of the focus of our year is very much to discern what God is calling us to as young Catholics in today’s world. Sometimes there is the temptation to keep as many options in life open as possible so as to remain ‘free’ – and there can often be a fear of losing something valuable to us by committing. In reality of course it is in making positive and generous decisions that we find the freedom to grow and thrive. This struggle between fear and the promise of growth is very real for young people like ourselves – and it surfaces anew when we contemplate the challenge to follow Jesus Christ with all our hearts and to be ready to give him everything! The words Pope Benedict gave us during his inauguration as Pope speak of this challenge and are a source of hope and help to young people the world over:

Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? … No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide... Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.”

Lets pray for all young people in their struggle to follow Christ and give him everything he asks!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Hope in the Heart of Hull

SPES is visiting Kingston-Upon-Hull this week! Father William Massey from the West Hull parishes invited SPES to join the community of four parishes in and around the city to street evangelise and speak with the people of Hull about God's love. The students have organised three evenings with different groups here at the parishes - First Holy Communion group, the youth group, and the 'people-off-the-street-group' where we'll discuss 'Why be Catholic?'. We will update you on our mission when we return, but in the meantime, please keep SPES, Fr William and his parishioners, and the people of Hull in your prayers.

Monday, 7 April 2008


Many stories of past Celebrate conferences had reached our ears...but none of them could hope to give us a picture of this year's experience. This annual family conference held by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal didn't take its usual form this year. But the SPES students still went and joined about 100 young adults, age 18-25, at Worth Abbey for "Joel's Bar."

We arrived at the abbey, just south of London, the evening of Easter Sunday and pitched in with the preparation efforts which were already underway. Spending time with the organising team was such a blessing. It was a way to see the prayer and effort that went on "behind the scene."

The week was great. We really didn't have a whole lot of responsibilities during the day (we weren't too disappointed about that) so we were able to participate like everyone else. Worth Abbey is beautiful (a very modern-style church!) and seemed to work out perfectly as the site for this conference. The music was inspiring, the talks gave us something to mull over and the prayer lifted us all to seek God more and more. Each day seemed to build on the previous, especially with the series of talks each of us chose at the beginning of the week. I picked the Love and Responsibility track which offered some practical information on Cardinal Wojtyla's book and also some great group discussion.

Being part of this gathering of young, charismatic Catholics was a very moving experience. I think the best part was enjoying the encouragement and company of other young Catholics who are putting Christ at the center of their lives as well.

On behalf of all the students, thank you to all who help to put on Joel's Bar! It was great meeting you all and we were definitely inspired by your love for the faith!