What a year this is! What great consolation and privilege as we journey throughout an academic year with so many beautiful souls seeking to grow in compassion, through service, community and spirituality. This is what summer looks like at the University Chaplaincy! This year’s journey started immediately in September as we started seeking what experiences Chaplaincy could offer hand in hand with other NGO’s and different communities in different countries. It has been quite a challenge after Covid times to get in touch once again with the communities we used to work with in the past as well as to make students aware of these experiences. Of course, we are not the only ones that had to go through changes and adapt to the needs of the places. The communities that used to welcome us also needed their time to adapt and evaluate the needs of their communities. And so, after several emails, phone calls, meetings, etc, we were extremely happy to be able to offer ten different experiences in Rome, Naples, Albania, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Camino de Santiago, Camino Ignaciano, Magis before WYD and PFI in Malta.
Today, the 26 July 2023, we are consoled and happy to share that after months of interviewing interested individuals to go for an experience, bringing them together to form groups, taking care of their formation through meetings, ice-breakers, live ins, fund raisers, gathering of resources and donations to prepare for each of the different experiences, groups are now starting to return from their experiences. Last Sunday, the group from Naples returned with smiling hearts and all geared up to share with us what an enriching experience it has been. We shall let them settle for a while but we are very much looking forward to hear from them the tiny details that make the experience so enriching and hopefully be able to share with you this joy.
Last Saturday, 7 individuals left for the Magis Experience. They arrived and settled immediately with hundreds of other young people from all over the world who seek to have an Ignatian Spiritual experience in Preparation for World Youth Day!
In the meantime, 2 small groups have also returned from Rome and another individual left this week for a period of 2 weeks. Three individuals who returned from this experience shared with us, “What a beautiful experience it was; one which I will never forget… I wish that people are encouraged to go. At the end of the day everyone has their limitations but everyone can help with the little they have... It is in such experiences that one understands the significance behind the words of the Gospel, “Give and you shall receive.” (Lk, 6:38). (Nathalie Attard – Student in Medicine & Surgery)
Two other students shared, “We witnessed both children and adults suffering from not having their basic needs met and we realised how much good can come out from offering a few hours of our time; helping them regain the dignity they deserve and which we take so much for granted.” (Miguel Attard & Jeanelle Calleja – Students in Medicine & Surgery)
Yesterday, Tuesday 25 July, we welcomed back the group from Albania. We look forward to hear from them as well and share with you their experience which was a first timer for a group from Malta in a village on the mountains called Sheldije.
In the meantime, the group in Egypt are in their last week of the experience. They shall return this Saturday! They are having a really good experience both as a community as well as the camp with the Missionaries of Charity.
The group in Ethiopia are settling well into the experience with a few challenges due to differences in lifestyle and culture. This is part of the experience and the group seems to be adapting well to these differences, which become an opportunity for the group to build a more communal spirit.
Next week, on the 1 August, we shall send off a group of 10 students going to the Camino de Santiago de Compostela for two weeks. On the 5 August, a group of 8 students will have an exchange experience involving voluntary work in Lebanon. On the 19 August a group of 3 will be off to the Camino Ignaciano in Spain who will be joining a group of around 50 Italians to walk the footsteps of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Groups in Rome will continue to come and go till the beginning of September and the summer camp in Zejtun will close off with the talent show on the 1 September.
We ask you to keep our youth and groups in your thoughts and prayers. We look forward to share with you more! May these experiences enrich not only the individuals living these experiences but also their families, friends, the ones they meet, us as a team and hopefully also you following our weekly updates.