A week of many graces in Manchester

Week of guided prayer opening liturgy
Opening liturgy for WGP in Manchester

The Jesuits’ spirituality outreach team is having a busy week.  On Sunday they began a week of guided prayer(WGP) in Manchester at the Jesuit-led Universities’ Catholic chaplaincy.  46 participants have signed up – a mixture of students, staff and local people from nearby Earlham parish.  They are supported by a team of twelve prayer guides.

“This is a particularly grace-filled week” observed Steve Hoyland, the team leader.

“Three years ago we held a week of guided prayer here in Manchester and the chaplaincy team noticed special gifts in a number of the participants who we then invited to do further training as prayer guides,” Steve explained.  “They helped to run a week of guided prayer in the local parish at Galton which went really well.  When Bishop John heard about it he asked us to do WGPs in 16 parishes of the Salford diocese – and that took place in 2016.  During this programme the prayer guide team was attentive to spotting potential gifts in the participants with the result that many more have done the prayer guide training and are now able to offer more input in their parishes and around the diocese.  In fact, seven of the guides with us this week came through the parish programme.”

Weeks of guided prayer follow a similar pattern. They are launched with a Sunday prayer session for all participants who are then allocated a prayer guide with whom they meet daily for 30 minutes during the week.  There are three evening workshops on different prayer topics, and a closing session for sharing and suggestions for the future on Friday afternoon.  At the end of the week it is often possible to continue one to one spiritual direction for those who want it, especially if local trained prayer guides are available.

There are two Jesuit novices on “experiment” (Jesuit jargon for work experience) at the Manchester chaplaincy this term.  They have been helping the spirituality team by welcoming the WGP participants and engaging in spiritual conversation during the week.

“It has been a week of many graces both for the leaders and the participants,” Steve concluded.