Novices pray with young adults at weekend retreat

Novices Patrick, Christopher and Vinny take part in Saturday morning’s Rosary
Novices Patrick, Christopher and Vinny take part in Saturday morning’s Rosary

Last weekend, a group of Jesuit novices, led by Fr Simon Bishop SJ, took part in ‘The Release: Light up the Sky’, a retreat weekend for young adults, organised by Youth 2000. Hosted at St Bernard’s Catholic High School, Rotherham, there was a great atmosphere throughout the weekend, not only among the novices from Manresa House in Birmingham but also among the entire 180-or-so young people who attended.

The retreat involved periods of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, along with praying the rosary and a series of motivational talks on a range of faith issues. There were also Masses concelebrated by many priests from across the Hallam and Leeds dioceses, including other religious and local bishops. In addition, the priests and religious were always present in the corners of the main room, constantly available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This ‘sacramental backbone’ to the weekend made it a very powerful and moving place to be, especially for the Jesuit novices as young men in the very early stages of training to become priests.

Powerful witnesses to the faithFr Simon Bishop SJ starts a period of Adoration at the retreat

“We attended as participants.” explains Christopher Brolly, one of the novices involved in the weekend retreat. “But soon we were involved in helping out, leading some decades of the rosary on Saturday morning and, perhaps most movingly, taking part in ‘Prayer Ministry’. This involved listening to the prayer intentions of the other young people present and praying alongside them. These moments of prayerful accompaniment were a special point in the weekend for all of us. Along with the influential talks and homilies we heard from local priests such as Fr Lee Marshall and Fr Leonard May, we all left feeling very affirmed in our vocation.”

Christopher says that he personally felt inspired by the organisational skills of the Youth 2000 leadership team. “It was consoling not only to meet so many committed young Catholics but to get a sense of how they are (and no doubt will continue to be) powerful witnesses and enablers of our faith.”

Vocation, servicSome of the young adults who took part in the Youth 2000 retreat with the Jesuit novicese and community

The Jesuit novices were helped in their task in Rotherham by warm hospitality from local parishioners who gave them a great taste of Yorkshire with regular cups of tea, a sizzling chicken curry and, of course, a delicious steak pie and mushy peas for their leaving dinner on the Sunday afternoon!

According to Christopher, writing on the Manresa Amigos blog, the novices left ‘on a high’. “We felt affirmed in our sense of vocation, of being at the service of the Church, and also in our own sense of community, having spent a really inspiring weekend together, united in prayer and joy.”

Find out more about what life as a Jesuit entails - including what it means to be a novice - on the Jesuits in Britain Vocations website