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The Jordan Call Retreat for the Youth of Mumbai

By Carissa Gudino
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Mumbai, Dec. 24. Don Bosco Youth Services (DBYS) conducted the Jordan Call retreat for the youth of Mumbai from December 13 to16, 2012 at the Lord's Ranch, Lavasa - Pune. Leaving behind the noisy and busy settings of city life, the youth found the pure air, green hills and silence of Lord's Ranch an ideal setting for the retreat. The ''Jordan Call'' retreat was aimed at preparing the youth for Christmas, just as John the Baptist gave the call to conversion by the banks of the river Jordan.

During the retreat the youth were introduced to new and interesting forms of prayer. The retreat began with Nature Meditation in which they were asked to meditate and reflect within themselves and then choose something from Nature that inspired them or defined them. This exercise enabled them to reflect over their lives as well as to absorb the beauty of Nature to the fullest.

They were introduced also to the ''Lectio Divina'' ( Latin for ''divine reading'') which describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby one gradually lets go of own agenda and opens oneself to what God wants to communicate.

The third form of prayer was the ''Taize prayer'' created by Brother Roger, in the ecumenical prayer centre of Taize in France. What is unique to this prayer is the adaptation of the repetitive form to simple musical lines and core biblical texts that can be sung by a whole assembly of various nationalities, languages, and denominations.

Along with the various forms of prayer and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist every day, the retreat focused on helping the youth reflect on their lives. Fr. Glen Lowe guided them with the help of beautifully prepared sessions and worksheets to retrace significant events in their lives. There were also oppoportunites to share about their life experiences, how they moulded them, as well as discovering the areas in which they need to change.

Brother Hilary de Veiga, the founder of the Lord's Ranch, shared his testimony with the group about how God has used him as an instrument to work for his people. Testimonies were also shared by two others, Anthony and Adison, on how the Lord had touched their lives and how their lives had changed after attending retreats at the Lord's Ranch.

The youngsters visited also the rehabilitation centre on the Lord's Ranch where they could interact with the inmates and hear their experiences of substance dependence and their difficult journey towards recovery.

Praying the 'Stations of the Nativity' on the ranch also helped the youngsters to reflect on their lives and on their preparation for Christ's coming.

There was in addition, a Q & R (Question and Response) session where the youth were free to ask questions about their faith, curiosities and controversies. Through this session they were able to learn many aspects of their faith. It left them also thirsting for more... During the retreat, there were opportunities to frequent the sacrament of Reconciliation and thus to get ready for the celebration of Christmas.

The retreat culminated with a fun-filled campfire on the last night with singing, dancing, and creative games. The group left the Lord's Ranch having experienced the Lord's presence, forgiveness and love. The group in fact had mixed feelings at the moment of departure: eagerness to get back to their families and friends, and yet a strong desire to linger on in the green silent hills to savour the goodness of the Lord!


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