Encounter was the theme as a dozen sixth form theologians from St Paul’s Catholic School in Milton Keynes gather at St Columban’s in Solihull earlier this month for a retreat exploring the Christian vocation.
The retreat, jointly facilitated by Pax Christi and the Columban Missionaries, gave the students and staff alike the time and space to reflect on what it means to be a Christian and how we respond to the question Christ poses in the Gospel; Who do you say that I am? [Mk 8:27-33]
The undoubted highlight of the day was our encounter with Steph who reflected on how her Christian discipleship had led her to living a life of prayer, service, and action in a radical Christian community. Steph works supporting refugees and asylum seekers, in involved in campaigning against the arms trade, and recently she and her husband bought a house and donated it to be used by refugees.
Steph reflected on the centrality of prayer in her daily life and how time spent in prayer allowed her to open herself to loving and being loved. She challenged us all to be open to the transformative power of love in our lives.
Elsewhere we reflected on Pope Francis’s words on mercy, celebrated those people who have inspired and encouraged us in faith journey, and heard from Fr Peter Hughes SSC about the many years he spent ministering in Chile during the military dictatorship there.
The day concluded with a celebration mass led by Fr Peter at which we reflected prayerfully on that key question of our day, who do you say that I am? A joyful shared meal of pizza followed before we headed back to Milton Keynes encouraged and inspired.
Reflecting on the event in the days afterwards some of the students said:
“It was a good opportunity to reflect, not just on yourself, but also on our world and the wider community”
“The retreat was very good in so many different ways!”
“The talk with Steph was very good, it made you think about what you will do to help other people. The reflections also were good as it meant you could step back and pause. The time playing table tennis together was enjoyable too.”
“[I enjoyed spending] time talking to your friends and we had some interesting discussions”
“[I enjoyed] the time we had to spend with other people to encounter their opinions”
If you are interested in organising a similar retreat for your students contact Matt at our youth desk.