A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Catholic Discipleship College: Outreach and Retreat

by Brian Lenssen

by Brian Lenssen

After being a student at the Catholic Discipleship College in 2012 I have come back this year as a volunteer on staff. It has been an intense year full of learning, prayer, self-discovery and outreach. I’d like to share about some highlights from the second half of this year of the programme with our students.

On Monday 12 August, Lisa (our Household & Formation Leader), the students and I headed off in our College van on our Southern Pilgrimage. Our first stop was Jerusalem on the Whanganui River, to an old orphanage (1892) and novitiate house set up by Mother Suzanne Aubert, founder of the Sisters of Compassion. We spent two days at this beautiful, historical, and very remote place, for prayer and reflection.

Then it was off to Whanganui to share our faith with the students in the Catholic High School, Cullinane College. Over two days we took Religious Education classes which proved a rewarding test for our students. I was very proud of the effort they made, and the growth they exhibited in explaining their faith to the teenagers, six months into their nine months of formation with us.

We continued our trip down to Wellington where we did more outreach, namely running two youth group sessions: one in Kilbirnie Parish, and the other based in Porirua, led by the Missionaries of Charity, comprised mainly of Kiribati children. Our theme for the nights was taken from Pope Francis’ message at the Brazil World Youth Day, “Go, be not afraid and serve.” It was a real blessing for us to spend time with these inspirational and beautiful sisters and the youth of Wellington.

Dan, Lisa, Kirsten, Phil and Brian

Dan, Lisa, Kirsten, Phil
and Brian

We were also treated to dinner by Brother Matt Morris SM and Fr Matt Crawford SM from the local Marist Community. They shared their vocational stories and what it was like teaching at St Patrick’s (Kilbirnie). They had many humorous and inspirational stories, especially Br Matt with so many years of teaching experience. We also spent a morning with the St Pat’s students, sharing our experiences of CDC and inviting them to think about attending.

During our four days in Wellington we also visited the ICPE community at St Gerard’s monastery, prayer at Mary’s Shrines at Paraparaumu and Otaki, and discovered the new museum about Suzanne Aubert at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay. Even though we were caught in the big quake, had our van broken into and all our outreach gear stolen, our faith in God’s work through us in Wellington was not shaken.

We spent two days at the Cistercian Monastery in Kopua, and had the opportunity to live a prayerful day in the life of a monk. Most of the students took one of the days to go to all the Liturgy of the Hours, including Nocturn at 4.30 in the morning!

It was then off to Hastings where Fr Paddy Kinsella SM took us on a wonderful tour of the history of the Marists in the area, including Greenmeadows where he was ordained nearly 60 years ago. Once again, the Knights of the Southern Cross hosted us in Hastings putting on a buffet dinner while getting to know this year’s students. We participated in their annual Mass for Vocations then spent a few days in the Hawke’s Bay Catholic schools leading their Challenge 2000 Youth Group before heading back to Auckland.

A blessed trip!

At the end of September, we all packed our rosaries and bibles along with our clothes and went on our annual silent retreat, focused on discerning our personal call. Fr Rick Loughnan, the Vicar General of Christchurch Diocese, led us through four days of prayer and contemplation at the Tyburn Monastery, in Bombay, South Auckland, where we were lovingly hosted by the Tyburn nuns.

As the year draws to a close, I am grateful for the opportunity to help form this year’s CDC students, and serve the Church of New Zealand in this way. 

Tagged as: , , ,

Comments are closed.