Living the faith through active engagement

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Living the faith through active engagement

A retreat in Northern Tasmania gave participants the opportunity to deepen their faith and to explore and embrace their relationship with a loving God.

A visiting Jesuit priest from the United States, Fr Trung Pham, was based in the George Town Catholic Parish and led the four-week retreat in daily life, entitled Inner Peace in Divine Love.

Some 22 people from the George Town and Launceston areas took part in the retreat, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola – the belief that God is active, personal and present. Among the participants were six staff members from the Star of the Sea Catholic College at George Town.

This retreat involved encountering God in everyday life through a program of personal prayer and attending a weekly gathering of guided spiritual conversation.

Midway through the retreat, Fr Trung, George Town Parish Administrator Fr Edward Zammit OFM, and some retreat participants reflected on their experiences at the George Town Presbytery after Mass at the nearby Star of the Sea Catholic Church.

“The retreat introduces a different way of praying and encourages participants to build an understanding of how God works in them and of finding God in daily life,” Fr Trung said.

“St Ignatius believed that God is active in our lives. The retreat helps participants to develop the skill of seeing God in their actions. I hope Ignatian Spirituality will deepen their spirituality and perhaps they will find a new way to live their faith through active engagement.

“The aim is to help the faithful to deeply see God at work in a personal way.”

Fr Edward Zammit described the retreat as a wonderful opportunity for the parish.

“The benefit to parishioners is that they come to know the richness of the Church with spirituality and the Ignatian spiritual exercises,” he said.

“It is a way of giving glory to God through daily spiritual exercise for the greater glory of God.”

The local co-ordinator, parishioner Belinda Chapman, was delighted with the response to the retreat.

“It is wonderful to hear snippets of people’s prayer: to see the Spirit moving and how it has touched them deeply,” Mrs Chapman said.

“Listening in on their prayer is a real privilege.”

Fr Trung, 44, is in Australia for eight months, as part of a program to prepare him for his final vows. His next stop is Melville Island, off the coast of the Northern Territory, where he will work with indigenous people in that parish.

Fr Trung is a Vietnamese-born, U.S.-based associate professor in the Art and Art History Department of Seattle University. He has been a priest for seven years, a Jesuit for 21 years, and is also chaplain of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Movement in the north-west region of the U.S.

“I am honoured to be here in George Town and to be part of this friendly and kind community,” Fr Trung said.

“This is a lovely place with beautiful landscapes and caring people.”

Image: George Town parish administrator Fr Edward Zammit OFM (fifth from left) and visiting Jesuit priest Fr Trung Pham with parishioners (from left) Wendy Harrap, Jerry O’Connor, Barb Turner, Beryl Tiernan, Belinda Chapman, and Luke Chapman, 11, outside the Star of the Sea Catholic Church.