Compass Points vocation discernment group at Worth Abbey 3/4/07

Last summer ('06), I took part in the annual National Vocations Forum at the Benedictine monastery of Worth Abbey in Sussex, location for the highly successful BBC TV series "The Monastery". About 40 people took part, including other religious (such as my De La Salle friend Bro. Ben Foy), priests and lay people, all of whom work in some way for the development of vocations. It was a wonderful time of shared experiences, wisdom and support, skillfully facilitated by Abbot Christopher Jamison of Worth.

We didn't just deal with the burning question of religious/priestly vocations but also addressed the wider, more fundamental questions of christian vocation in general and the need to develop a stronger culture of vocation. Such a culture amongst Christians would encourage the discernment necessary to be able to hear God's call to a particular way of life; be it marriage, celibate single life, religious life, priesthood, etc... and to particular a apostolate within that life.

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At the end of that day, I found myself chatting with Abbot Christopher and before I knew it he had invited me to get involved in an annual vocation discernment programme held at Worth called Compass Points, which uses a very well-designed web site as a first point of contact (on the internet, at least) for those seeking to take time out to discern and reflect upon the life that God might be calling them to. Over 30 different congregations contribute financially to the running of the programme. It is aimed at young adults between the ages of 20 and 35 and involves about 8 residential visits to Worth (the whole of Holy Week and a number of weekends) starting in September and finishing the following Pentecost.

The Abbot asked me to write to Fr. Luke, Novice Master at Worth and co-leader of the programme with Sr. Anne. I was then invited by Fr. Luke to come and talk to the group during their Holy Week gathering.

So, on the Monday of last week (Holy Week '07), I took the train from Liverpool down to Worth Abbey (via Euston, the Underground, Victoria and a train for Three Bridges station, the nearest to Worth). I was asked to give 2 talks on the Tuesday, the first being an account of my own spiritual journey which led me to become a De La Mennais Brother (including a projected photo slideshow - made so easy by my MacBook Pro + remote :-), the second being on religious life as a Brother (its spirituality, what the life entails, the 3 vows, the apostolate, etc...). There was ample time after each talk for questions and discussion.

I personally got a great deal out of my time there with the group and staying in the monastery itself (I returned to Liverpool on the weds. morning) and I hope I was of some use to them. I enjoy talking about my life as a Brother (perhaps because I enjoy the life itself), but it is also part of my responsibility as Brother responsible for co-ordinating vocations work in England for our order to seek such opportunities. I took as a good sign the fact that I was asked to get involved again next year.

Whilst I was there I wrote a reflection which can be found in my next post.


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