At the St Lucia Retreat and Training Centre in KwaZulu Natal, Frances Correia, from the Jesuit Institute, recently offered the course “Hearts on fire”.
During 4 days, 13 young men and women from the Vicariate of Ingwavuma have come to discover the spirituality that motivates Pope Frances and millions of other Christians throughout the world. A worthy experience for Nonto,27, who wrote: “Even if these spiritual exercises are not easy initially, if they take energy and total commitment to actually achieve being able to quieten your mind, they have taught me to notice that God’s presence is not only in the chapel but in everything and in the people around me. You can even see God’s face in your imagination!”
In the course, time was given to experience a variety of ways of prayers and to share about the experience, to taste God’s love and presence through the beauty of His Creation, the Scriptures and through our lifestory. These different ways to develop a personal relationship with Jesus were new for those young adults attending the course. “During this training I have been invited to seek that personal connection with God and to understand that God speaks to me in many ways. I must admit that it was my first time to experiment these different ways of prayers and it is completely different from the style of praying that I was brought up with. Prayer is more than presenting your needs to God! I have now a broader understanding of prayer ” expressed Syabonga,24.
This course has given to these young people a large range of experiences to be more aware of God and to live their life with more freedom. Veronika, 21, doesn’t hesitate to say: “My belief in God has been renewed and my soul is full of joy. I have found my way to connect with God. I realize that God doesn’t want me to hold on to the past but rather he wants me to move forward to my future. Free from my shame and regrets I can walk empowered by his good spirit. I feel so much blessed!”
With “Hearts on fire” these happy participants are better equipped to go back to their parishes as a resource for others.
Let us give the last words to Nonto again: “This experience has taught me to appreciate my surroundings and the people in my life. It has taught me to be aware that even though we are unique, we are still from one Body, which is the Body of Christ. I would really encourage other people to get this experience because it helps to stop and think if what we are doing is what God wants of us and for us; it helps in giving meaning to one’s life.”
Sr Elisabeth Marie ANSART, OSU