Summary of SPES 2011-2012
This time 9 months ago, six young people gathered together from all around the world; from Brazil, Indonesia, Scotland, Ireland and England, we represented many cultures and countries. We looked forward to the journey with great anticipation but yet we were all taking a leap of faith into the unknown…..
Our Highlights of the Year:
2. Listening to our hugely knowledgeable lecturers and feeding off their enthusiasm. We were so enriched simply by their witness and personal faith experiences that the content they taught us was a real bonus!) Each week, we covered a different theme e.g. Apologetics, Evangelization, Salvation History, the writings of St.Paul and St.John’s Gospel etc. We also completed a Certificate from Maryvale in Adult Studies of the Catechism. We always commented that our lecturers were the cream of the crop!
3. Meeting such a diverse number of people on the streets during our weekly evangelization and missions (Advent, Scarborough, Spirit in the City). We were challenged and our faith was strengthened as we had so many AMAZING experiences. The Holy Spirit certainly had to work hard during the year as we called out for courage and strength to hit the streets of Soho. He never let us down, even if He tested our trust at times ;) God has a great sense of humour and we saw Him in full flow when we had the blessed invasion of hundreds of Santa Claus’ and Elves at our Church, which brought much needed laughter and life to the Advent mission!
4. Our wonderful pilgrimage to Rome where we received the royal treatment. Personally sitting beside Cardinal Pell in his Australian restaurant was the CRAIC!!
5. Our retreats in Notting Hill, Oxford and Dorset enabled us to withdraw from the busy parish life and reflect with greater clarity and depth. It was amazing to feel so united with the community yet be in solitude and silence (most of the time!). Particularly in Dorset some of the community members were bursting to talk but many encouraging smiles, notes and some spontaneous laughter sufficed! ;)
6. The welcome we received into some of the most beautiful homes around England helped bond our community. It’s fascinating to see the positive effects of glorious surroundings, not to mention the food we received!
7. Volunteering with the homeless and SOS prayerline never failed to bring a deep sense of peace and put our lives into perspective. The joy and humour of the homeless people was infectious. The prayerful atmosphere and unity in the soup kitchen was something special to witness as we gathered together as equals to share the love of Christ.
8. Claz preparing food for us to eat on our late return from outreach. Our hunger was always satisfied when we ate her delicious meals with a big dash of LOVE!
9. Catholicism and Night Fever were events that really caught our imagination and opened our eyes to the future possibilities on our return home.
10. Tatiana (our chatty Brazilian!) maintaining silence during the final retreat in Dorset must be highly commended…what a transformation T.A.T.I!!
We are so grateful and full of appreciation to Fr.Alexander, our parish priest and all those who worked tirelessly to help provide for us in St.Patrick’s parish. We would like to thank our coordinators Deanna and Edna in particular. They emptied their tanks of love, energy, advice, humour and patience-which was tested to the limit at times!!. They selflessly gave themselves entirely and we learnt so much from their work ethic, passion and zeal for the Lord. With their encouragement and support, we all grew together this year; rejoicing in the joyful moments and uniting even closer through the difficult and challenging times.
In hindsight we can be proud of ourselves for sticking together through thick and thin (often we had no choice!!). The laughter and joy in the community was evident from the beginning but many people shook their heads and smirked: “just wait and see the honeymoon period will not last…” Low and behold the joy remained even if the laughter turned to tears at times! Our friendships grew stronger as we survived 6am alarm bells (some struggled more than others to rise from bed!), being together 24/7, long and bumpy trips in our mini-van, and working well together to prepare for missions and events (Holy Spirit inspired for sure!).
The past 9 months have been life-changing for us all and never for a second do we regret taking that leap of faith!! Although our paths are now in different directions, we will always be united in Spirit and we all look forward to our future reunion. Congratulations to Ciara who is the new SPES co-coordinator and Laurie who will be volunteering in the parish, Claz will be actively engaging in the New Evangelisation with young people and youth on her own home turf (London!), Tatiana and Carmelo are traveling back to Mexico and Indonesia respectively and Anne-Marie is returning to teach Confirmation class in a Dublin Primary School.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19