Don Bosco Youth Services (DBYS) conducted the Jordan Call retreat for the youth of Mumbai from 13th to the 16th of December 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 aimed at preparing the youth for Christmas, just as John the Baptist gave the call to conversion by the banks of the river Jordan.
We were introduced to new and interesting forms of prayer. We began with nature meditation: we were asked to meditate and reflect within ourselves before choosing something from nature that inspired us or that defines us. This exercise enabled us to reflect over our lives as well as absorb the beauty of nature to the fullest. We made a spontaneous prayer thanking God for his bountiful gifts in creation.
We experienced another form of prayer called the “Lectio Divina” (Latin for “divine reading”) which is a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. We were divided into groups where we reflected, shared and prayed on a scripture passage.
The third form of prayer was the “Taizé prayer” created by Brother Roger, in the ecumenical prayer centre of Taizé 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. We said meaningful thanksgiving prayers, venerated the cross and received the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament.
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 us with the help of beautifully prepared sessions and worksheets to retrace significant events in our lives. We were then asked to share about our life experiences and how they have moulded us, as well as discovering the areas in which we need to change.
Brother Hilary de Veiga – the founder of the Lord’s Ranch – shared his testimony with us about how God has used him as an instrument to work for his people. Testimonies were also shared by Anthony and Adison on how the Lord has touched their lives and how their lives have changed after attending retreats at the Lords Ranch.
We also visited the rehabilitation centre on the Lord’s Ranch where we interacted with the inmates and heard them their experiences of substance dependence and their difficult journey towards recovery.
We also enjoyed praying the ‘Stations of the Nativity’ which focussed on the events around the birth of Jesus: from the ancient prophecies, through the annunciation, to the birth of Jesus. It helped us reflect on our own lives and on our preparation for Christ’s coming.
We also had a “Q & R” (Question and Response) session where we were free to ask questions about our faith, curiosities and controversies. We were happy to learn many aspects of our faith, but we were left thirsting for more… During the retreat, there were opportunities to frequent the sacrament of Reconciliation which helped us to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
The retreat culminated with a fun-filled campfire on the last night with singing, dancing, and creative games. We left the Lord’s Ranch having experienced the Lord’s presence, forgiveness and love. We had mixed feelings – eagerness to get back to our family and friends, yet wanting to linger on in the green silent hills to savour the goodness of the Lord!
– Carissa Gudino.