In October 2023 I led (ably supported by Fr Luis Orlando SJ at St Wilfrid’s, Preston) a retreat in daily life (aka Week of Guided Prayer) for the METANOIA community in Preston.  This Catholic body brings together a variety of lay people who support each other while serving the city.  They reach out to the homeless with a drop-in centre at St Wilfrid’s Jesuit Church and offer chaplaincy provision to schools and university students.  They offer days of reflection and prayer and courses to help other Catholics grow in faith and commitment.  Many of the community have jobs (such as teaching) and families, yet they find time and energy for this further expression of their faith.  Through word (often in the form of quality singing and impressive musicality – thank you Ruth and Immy – wherever Immy went on the keyboard, Ruth goes on the guitar), the building and living of genuine community, and also service, they practise what they preach: the Good News of God’s Kingdom.  This is the New Evangelisation combining the three elements of kerygma (proclamation), koinonia (communion), and diakonia (loving service) that characterize that particular Catholic understanding of sharing the Gospel. 

Why was the week of guided prayer so enjoyable?  Committed Catholics who take their relationship with and discipleship of Jesus seriously, enjoy each other’s company, are warm and welcoming to the likes of myself, and very much wanting to grow in the life of prayer.  I think that probably answers that question.   However busy they were, prayer ‘homework’ (I used to be a teacher) was completed!  No detentions were given.  There was even cake.

Did God show up?  God was clearly already very much around and looking forward to the deepening intimacy that a retreat makes possible.  Yes, God showed up.  I think God enjoyed the week as much as I did.  

This is a group of people who give to others what they receive.  In Ignatian circles we sometimes call them ‘multipliers’.  St Ignatius was keen on working with multipliers, for the sake of the same Kingdom.

Confidentiality means that specific stories of the retreat cannot be shared except by the retreatants themselves. Here is one reflection from one participant in their own words . . .

I found the retreat in daily life very spiritually invigorating. It gave me the time and space to meet with Jesus and to try different methods of prayer which were really amazing. I was able to spend quality time with Jesus and it was a great joy!

I can affirm what is being shared here.  I’ve rarely seen Jesus more keen to show up and make clear how close He already is and wishes to be to someone.

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