Walking With Youth: 50 Young Professionals Complete Retreat in Pickering

June 13, 2019 — Last May 31 to June 2, 50 young professionals took part in an Ignatian retreat at the Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre. These young people, between the ages of 19 and 39, came from all walks of life: airline pilots, lawyers, accountants, physiotherapists, business people, students. The purpose of the retreat was to provide participants with some discernment tools in order to find greater clarity in their lives. According to Fr. John O’Brien, SJ, who directed the program, the entire event was a success and he is “grateful to God for the outpouring of grace that occurred.”

Meeting Them Where They’re At

How can one connect with young professionals? In this case, Fr. O’Brien utilized very current and down-to-earth references (like the Toronto Raptors) along with everyday stories and videos. However, the core of what he used was Saint Ignatius’ language, therefore explicitly Christian.

"I refer to God in Trinitarian terms, and to the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. I speak about the way we were born within the drama of the narrative of salvation which preceded us historically, but in which we are all involved. The incarnation of Jesus, his passion, his death and his resurrection are at the heart of this drama. By being introduced to Ignatian meditation, they are linked to God’s personal nature and to his desire to unite with his beloved daughters and sons. God is not indifferent!"

One of the images most employed by Fr. O’Brien was that of the “heart” and of God’s promise to give us a “heart of flesh,” just like him. This language connects with the realities experienced by young people today.

An Inspiring Retreat

According to the comments he received, the participants enjoyed the retreat. They especially liked the silence and the discussions, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the fact that they had a quiet space to pray in. Several of them mentioned that Saint Ignatius’ 14 Rules for the Discernment of Spirits were a great discovery to guide them and serve as a model in their spiritual lives. Fr. O’Brien also highlighted that the retreatants were quite moved by the experience.

Many of them had strong emotional reactions to the Scriptures that were suggested to them and some cried a lot during the weekend as they renewed with God. Near the end of the retreat, they had the opportunity to attend confession, which was a decisive turning point for some.

Interested Young People

The type of retreat offered in Pickering last week was the 5th of its kind hosted in Canada this year and the most important one. In order for the event to be successful, Fr. O’Brien had to reach out to potential participants. Simple and efficient posters along with social media were used, however it is the personal invitations (individuals, chaplains and groups from southern Ontario) that worked best. The costs related to the event could have been a serious problem for some, but the Knights of Columbus (Toronto) provided several sponsorships.

According to Fr. O’Brien, young people do not need much incentive to register: there is a great thirst for God in our culture. In fact, for the next retreats, Fr. O’Brien intends to ensure the presence of a greater number of spiritual directors for the young retreatants, perhaps more than the other groups, wish to have the opportunity to speak to someone.

Combining the spiritual exercises and work with youth, the retreats for young professionals thus respond to a real necessity in our society, as shown by their success.





Recent News

July 11, 2019 — This year, the Manresa Spiritual Center is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Many things have changed since the first laymen retreats in Toronto in 1925 and the foundation of Manresa in 1949, including the addition of retreats for women and for members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

July 9, 2019 — This second part of the Praying With the Preferences series focuses on the first two Apostolic Preferences: showing the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment; as well as walking with the poor and the outcasts of this world.

July 9, 2019 — On July 31, we will celebrate two special masses in honor of the Feast of Saint Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus.

July 8, 2019 — The Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice is very pleased to welcome two new, full-time staff members: Mark Hathaway as Associate Director and Victoria Blanco as Office and Program Manager.

July 1, 2019 — The Jesuits in Honduras are denouncing the Honduran government’s repression of protests over the past two months.

June 28, 2019 — This week is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast, whose origins date back to the XVIIth century, gives us the opportunity to meditate on how Jesus expressed his love. It was also an occasion for the Jesuits of Canada to consecrate their Toronto offices on June 25.  

June 28, 2019 — Last week, Pope Francis reiterated the importance of inclusion in the world of education, using the Fe y Alegría model as an example. This exhortation is a recurring theme in the Pope's speeches and is in line with a call for renewal in education which dates back to 1965.

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