It’s the ultimate ‘super fruit smoothie for the soul’
On the foundation year you feed your self with the gooood stuff. This isn’t only the gorgeous cooking talents of your fellow team mates, its the teaching, formation and prayer. Our year started with around six weeks of solid formation, with teaching from some fabulously talented, knowledgeable and gifted speakers who passed nuggets of their knowledge on to us. And this formation didn’t stop there. We are continually getting teaching throughout the year which helps us learn and grow more in our faith, forming us as members of Christ body, and preparing us to be our best when we are out on Mission.
The Prayer life here is incredible. The best way I can think of describing it is that there is a CULTURE of prayer. From the moment we arrived, the formation year has been formed on prayer; it is the start and end of every day. We get the fabulous opportunity of spending hours together each day, praying, worshiping, adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and celebrating Mass. It is so incredible. It makes us as a team so much stronger. Personally, it is incredible for your prayer life; spending more time with Jesus means I have come to know Him so much more. When I started I wasn't sure about the amount of praying, but it has been such a blessing for me, enabling my prayer life, and my relationship with Jesus to simply blossom. Now I can’t imagine life without it!
Exercising those ‘muscles you never knew you had’
So just to confirm I’m not talking about physical exercise - although two of my ‘arkie siblings’ did run the half marathon so who knows! No, what I mean by this is that in the Sion Youth Foundation Year you find yourself being challenged to do things that you never imagined yourself doing - I mean here I am writing a blog, definitely not my forte! Some of these challenges are simply situations you just wouldn't have found yourself in before; things you've always wanted to do but never had the chance; and things you’ve tried to avoid! However, being challenged to do things you wouldn’t normally do is something I have felt has really helped me as a person. For one thing it teaches you A LOT about obedience, one of those beautiful evangelical counsels I know I for one struggle with heaps! It also helps you discover more about yourself - speaking of which:
(Starting to) Set the world on fire
Yes, I am referring to that awesome quote from St. Catherine of Siena: ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire’. Now I’m not saying that in one year of foundation with Sion you’re sorted, you find the inner you, and become the full person God has created you to be - of course not! However, you make sooooo much progress. I have found that, in this one year (or at least the 7 months I’ve had so far), I have grown so much more in to the person God created me to be. I have discovered things about myself that, before joining, I had no idea about. Through the challenges, the times of prayer, the community life (etc.......) I have learnt so much more about my God given gifts and talents, and this knowledge is helping me grow in those areas. It is mega exciting looking back at how much I have learnt, and thinking that there is still a good 4 months of growing left - bring it on!!
We’re all in this together
One of the best things about this year is that you are not in it alone. Of course, Jesus is with ya all the way, and, on top of that, you have the most incredible people learning and leading you. I started this year surrounded by a group of people I knew nothing about - or as much about as Facebook stalking would permit(!) It took a matter of hours for these strangers to become siblings; siblings with whom I can laugh, cry, learn and most importantly, be completely myself with. It is incredible how well we all get along, and I know that this year is made by the incredible relationships that you form and grow in whilst in it. With your siblings you have the great joy of sharing similar interests and discovering new ones. From these people I have learnt so many knew things, from each of their deep wells of knowledge and their witness; from being introduced to the legend that is Dolly Parton to learning more about how gals (and guys) of my age live and breathe their faith. It is hilarious and I love them all to bits! BFFL!
So obviously one of the major things we do on the foundation year as the Sion Youth Team is Mission; spreading the joy that I have found in Jesus with the youth of the UK. It is the most incredibly challenging, intense and rewarding experience. Before I started the year, one of the things pushing me to do it was the fact that I wanted to share the joy I had experienced from Jesus with people - and that is exactly what we do! On Thursday’s and Friday’s on mission there is the opportunity for students to share their testimony, how they have experienced God in the week, with the rest of the school. It is the most powerful thing, students witnessing such truth and such joy to fellow students; every time it reminds me of Gods power working through us, and just how completely incredible He is!
Hannah Wood is currently on a Sion Youth Foundation Year. For more information or to apply please click here.