Sr Catherine Jones smsm
Every Thursday evening during July about 35 people gathered at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay. Under the guidance of Kevin Gallagher and a team of spiritual directors from Palmerston North they responded to their hunger for a deeper spiritual life. They followed the First Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, adapted to today’s busy lifestyle.
Each person committed to a time of prayer several days a week, and to another exercise involving Sunday Mass. The Ignatian exercises focus on ‘seeing God in all things’ – in all the events, people, life’s daily ups-and-downs, and knowing God’s love embraces everything – in growing a deep personal relationship with Jesus through prayer and reflection, and from that relationship being in action on behalf of the Gospel.
‘Suzanne Aubert was keenly aware of responding to the hunger of her time,’ explains Sister Margaret Anne Mills, of the Sisters of Compassion. This meant a special ministry to orphans, the homeless, those suffering from economic hardship. Images abound of Suzanne and the early sisters trundling around Wellington collecting food for those in need. This work continues.
‘But, today, there is a different hunger – a hunger to know God, to live more deeply by the Gospel of Jesus, a hunger for spirituality. We are happy to respond to that hunger, in making our facilities at Island Bay available for retreats and spiritual formation,’ says Sister Anne.
Reimaging our parishes into a ‘future full of hope’ also calls us to a new relationship with Jesus, to take positive action to build our faith communities, and to spread the Good News of Jesus.
‘I have found the retreat re-invigorating my faith while it also challenged me to selflessly contribute more to my parish and Archdiocesan communities’, observed one retreatant.
Hopefully these retreats in daily life will be more widely available in parishes and pastoral areas in the future. Yes, we are moving into ‘a future full of hope’.
Sister Catherine Jones smsm, is Chair, New Zealand Catholic Bishops Committee for Interfaith Relations.