At the far end of Loyola High School campus, amid sylvan surroundings at the foot of the Pashan Hills, nestles a little retreat house (LTC) looked after by Fr. Altrichter, a venerable Jesuit priest. One of the few places in Pune, where chirping of birds is your morning alarm. The chirping of crickets on the evening of June 19, 2015, was stilled by the sounds of joy and laughter resonating in the premises, when 33 single young adults gathered together for a weekend retreat. The merriment was prior to the start of the programme, when a few ice-breakers were introduced, intended for the participants to get to know one another better. After the programme started, the silent surroundings reverberated primarily with the voices of singing and praising God.
This “Retreat” was designed to take these young adults on a journey to know God, so that they could love Him and serve Him. This is part of an intake programme which will be continued every Sunday evening and conclude on August 2nd 2015. Currently there are 27 young adults who have committed two hours of their time every week. The sessions are conducted by a team of CFCI – Singles from Porvorim, Goa who come every Sunday morning and leave after the sessions in the evening. The team comprises young single working adults, most of who are professionals – a doctor, two lawyers, a chef.
We believe that the retreat was a huge success because it brought together young adults from various parishes and made them friends. To the surprise of many participants, the speakers for this retreat were not priests or parents who told them about what is right or wrong, but the speakers were young adults just like them, sharing the experiences of their life, how their lives changed when they met Jesus and made Him their BEST FRIEND. The young speakers from Goa discussed some very interesting topics which included a talk on God’s love, Sin and it’s consequences. They also shared how with the help of Jesus, they could overcome their weaknesses.
Towards the end of day 2, which was beautifully balanced with games, talks, group discussions, confession and Mass, we witnessed a positive change in the approach and attitudes of the participants. From ‘No one loves me’ to ‘Yes, I know God loves me unconditionally’ and from ‘My life is in my control’ to ‘Yes, I will trust in God’s plan for my life’, the retreat has definitely touched the lives of the participants.
An important take-away: “Our youth want to be loved.” This comes as a strong message to all parents that their children need their unconditional love and attention most of all.
A “Retreat” for single young adults in this day and age – you’ve got to be kidding!!! There are so many other things to do right now: chilling out with friends; movies; going out with gals / guys; office picnics. And weekends are the only time to do it. Well not everyone thinks that way, as the following comments from participants will testify:
Pooja Francis – Good Shepherd Parish
This retreat will always be special. Many of us came in as individuals but went out as one community. The sessions and discussions were extremely enriching and fruitful. It has helped me improve as a person at my family l, social and professional levels. I’m eagerly waiting for our big conference at Goa to happen. Thank you CFCI for this wonderful experience.
Caroline Menezes & Group – St. Patrick’s Parish
Getting to know God and the answer to most of my questions through games, singing, fun and frolic was not really what I expected at a retreat. However, CFCI-Singles made this whole experience an enriching and soul cleansing one. Since then I have seen a drastic change in my attitude towards people and in my prayer life for the better. It has helped me to let go of a lot of bad habits and misconceptions and has simply brought me closer to my creator. From “No I am not interested” to “Yes, I want to be there for every session” is something I give credit to the Holy Spirit working in me. I have realized how much more love God has to offer than what I thought. And most of all, our life is but a gift from Him. Every day and moment lived by us is but a story written by God himself; who are we at the end of a bad day to question the Almighty and ask him “WHY”?
Sharan Xavier – St. Patrick’s Parish
“The CLS has indeed changed my life. I’ve learnt to grow spiritually in my faith; got a much deeper knowledge about the Lord and ofcourse got to know a lot of amazing people. I would specially like to thank the team of CFCI-Singles Goa who used to travel all the way from Goa, to teach us about our faith. All said and done, this has been a wonderful experience of knowing so much about our Lord and coming closer to Him.”
Ashley Carrasco – OLPH Parish, Todiwala Road
“The CLS has brought me closer to God. I have learnt the true power of the Holy Spirit. He can truly turn your world inside out!”
Lawrence Godad – Divine Mercy Parish
“The CLS helped me get closer to God and my family, friends and everyone else. I am now in a closer walk with Jesus. I’ve also changed the way I pray from petitions to gratitude, thanksgiving, blessing and praise.”
Chris Crasta – “The singles CLS (Christian Life Seminar) has been a blessing for me. I have been able to improve my relationship with God. This CLS has been an eye opener for me in my prayer life, as I realized how important it is to keep Jesus as the centre of my life. I had a Beautiful time experiencing God. Thank you”
Melville D’Souza (Formator) – Good Shepherd Parish
The session on “Sin” hit us all really hard. The speaker displayed a heart, and for each sin we commit, he pricked the heart with a pin telling us that we hurt ourselves by sinning. He kept doing this by going through the 10 commandments and areas where we fall and at the end of it the heart was full of pins. He then said that when we sin, we hurt not only ourselves but Jesus as well, and he turns around the heart and there was a face of Jesus full of pins. This motivated all the Singles to make a good confession and everyone is now working on being true to Jesus and ourselves.
Emilio & Jenny Noronha (Formator Couple) – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish
Today’s youth are subjected to bad influence from the world which is bound to affect all areas of their life including their marriage The solution is to help them to develop a relationship with Jesus. This is easier said than done. It is spiritual warfare. And in order to get our youth to commit to such a programme many members of Couples for Christ engaged in prayer and chain fast in the weeks leading up to the programme. It was truly a fulfilling experience, as the participants responded to the sessions, we could see the anointing pass from the speakers to the participants.