A Time to Reflect: Fr. Jacek Kostuch

A moment to reminisce on how far we have come. A day to look to the future and where we might go. A year or reflection on what it means to grow and a lifetime…

The decision to relaunch a series of ‘Reflection Days’ was taken whilst drinking coffee (and I promise nothing stronger!) whilst flicking through the recent publication of the Diocesan Vocation Plan and its Four-Point Plan to promote vocations to the priesthood. The word ‘invitation’ very much leapt off the page, and this initiative is very much in response to a need for men to gather, enabling participants to listen and hear God’s call more clearly away from the distractions of the usual working day.

To date, we are grateful to have been welcomed at the Fowey Retreat Centre, run by Fr. Robbie Lowe (Feb 2022); at Sclerder Abbey, run by the Chemin-Neuf community (May 2022 and June 2023); at Dorchester, Holy Trinity Parish, run by the late Fr. Barry Hallett and his community (July 2022); at Exeter University Catholic Chaplaincy (October 2022); and most recently at Christ the King Plymouth University Chaplaincy, run by Canon Mark O’Keeffe (February 2023). Given the success of this programme, the Reflection Days will continue to be run on a three-to-four-month frequency, with the next one being scheduled for the 14th of October 2023 at the University Chaplaincy in Exeter.

These six to seven hour ‘get-togethers’, as they have become known, have been appreciated by all who have attended on several levels as they have provided: a time to pray together (including the celebration of Mass, Adoration and other times of prayer); a time to share meals together and hear each other’s spiritual journey; a time to pose those questions about the meaning of life which naturally arise on our journey through life; a time to hold meaningful discussion about the various approaches and struggles in hearing God’s call in the midst of a hectic and increasingly secular culture; a time to encourage the development of our spirituality to enable ‘the sensitive listening and hearing of God’s call’; a time to hear conferences from serving priests in our Diocese about the spirituality of the Diocesan Priest; and an opportunity to have one-to-one conversations with serving Diocesan Priests about the realities of the priesthood today in our parishes throughout the Southwest (in addition to the Office of Vocations seven working priests have been involved to date).

People come in all colours, shapes and sizes, and thus the Reflection Days have been adapted to the needs of those attending as required. To date these days have resulted in over thirty-four enquiries and over twenty attendees. Those who enquire further continue to be accompanied on their discernment journey by the team of Vocation Promoters, and ultimately the Vocations Director, for those who are ‘serious’ about going forward!

Let me share with you some feedback from those who have attended the Reflection Days:
·      I think having such an event twice per year would be good for our formation. (R.0, 20s)
·      I particularly valued the time spent with the priests from our Diocese in the one-to one sessions. It would have been helpful to have more time spent on this. (S.K.Y, 40s)
·      This time allowed me to realise that this is not my calling, but it gave me useful pointers on how to discern my true call. (K.S. 20s)
·      The time spent with other men discerning God’s Call was greatly appreciated and the generosity in the sharing is valued. I always thought I was the only one having these struggles! (A.M. 30s)
·      Would be useful to have had a longer time together – overnight occasionally, Friday night/Saturday possibly.  (Various, all ages)

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