This mission was a great experience for me, so many young people who really got on board with what mission week is all about. Many of them meeting Jesus in the times of adoration that we do at lunchtimes, and I had a number of great conversations with students. One of my favourite parts of mission is times of question & answer (typically in the Q&A workshop, but it seems to end up happening a lot more frequently). I find it very challenging and my brain is normally quite fried afterwards but it seems to me that many students have important questions they need answering about the faith and it is a great pleasure to give them some answers. One of my concerns about this sort of thing originally was that it would become a debate rather than people genuinely coming in search of answers, but it seems I was wrong in this regard. Most of the students I've encountered are in the process of a serious search for answers, and are led to believe in a lot of things about church teachings which are inaccurate and do a lot to put people off the church (obviously not helped by the media portrayal of her). But I've found it to be a really productive way of getting people talking about the faith and building them up in it.
It was after the Bury mission and that we had about a week off and also attended the 'Many streams, one river' conference in London with the rest of the community. We then moved on to Gravesend where we had a mission last week.
This mission was challenging in a few different ways. But still God moved really powerfully in a lot of the students. My challenge for this mission was to be more 'switched on' in our Prayer4U sessions, where we pray for and with students. Personally I felt like this was something I needed to improve in myself as this was a time where students could really come and meet God in a deep and personal way, and I needed to make sure I was helping them do this to the very best of my ability. This time I felt like I was able to achieve this, I saw a few students clearly touched by the Lord and a number of others who I'm sure He was working in even if they didn't say so.
One of the things I found difficult about this school at the beginning of the week was that I found it difficult to get them engaged with the spiritual side of mission, rather than just getting caught up in the fun side of it. However, I noticed a real change by the end of the week in the end of mission Mass. I saw many students engaged in the prayers and songs of the mass and it was really incredible to see this change. Part of what we do during the week involves trying to relate a lot of what we say to students, in some way, to the Mass. This is so that when we leave the school the students can appreciate its beauty more and so have something tangible to hold on to. I felt this was particularly evident this mission.
Anyway, as I say, we're off again on Saturday so time to enjoy my last day of rest before we start preparing again! God bless you all :)