CONFIRMATION RETREATS: -an Invitation to Parishes and Schools re ‘THE ESKER EXPERIENCE’ for your CONFIRMATION STUDENTS.
(Photo: Crossing the Shakey Bridge – the rope bridge at Carrickareed, Co. Antrim).
For information and bookings, contact:
Esker Youth Ministry, Redemptorist Monastery, Esker, Athenry, Co. Galway. firstname.lastname@example.org
(091) 850298, (091) 844007 (086)0216553
Click here for photo of the Esker Youth Ministry Team, taken Sept. 8th, 2015.
The Esker Experience: We on the Esker Youth Team try to make these young people as welcome as we possibly can,- ‘Welcome’ is our middle name in Esker! We treat them with the deepest respect, we listen to them, hear their issues, engage with them, give them the chance to experience meditation if they want it. We try to celebrate life with them, to invite them to learn wonder again,- at nature, at themselves, at the people around them, at life with all its challenges and opportunities. We keep our feet on the ground with them, even as we try to show them (‘sometimes even with words’) the face of Jesus for them. We invite them to see themselves reflected in his eyes, and to become more aware of ‘the wonder of their being’. And we all have plenty of fun in the process!
We may not cover the things that they are doing already in preparation for Confirmation, but we believe that if they can ‘open the door to Christ’ in their lives, that the Holy Spirit will then come upon them as promised. ‘Friendship with Christ is a true sign of being an adult in the faith’. We remember also a quotation by Bryan McMahon, the late Listowel Teacher and Writer, when he quoted his Primary School Teacher: ‘I fell in love with human nature, and through human nature I fell is love with God.’ We try to keep our humanity at the core of the day.
The day normally ends with a celebration of Eucharist, in which they are greatly involved.
During break times, they normally get a chance to explore the beautiful grounds of Esker, and play in the ‘forest’ as some of them call it.
POST CONFIRMATION (RE)TREATS: we can also offer a Day Away in Esker, for the same young people, after their have received the Sacrament. Such a day would give them an opportunity to talk about the whole experience, and how they feel after it. It gives a chance to explore where they could go from this point onwards. This accords with the practice in the ancient church where people received some preparation for the Sacraments, but then explored more deeply the mystery and experience, after they had received the sacrament.
Finally, such a day can be, in a parish, a moment of special bonding with these young people as they begin their adult lives, and can be a bridge to strengthening these bonds with them through their secondary-level years.