" Have you ever seriously reflected what those words mean, a God to be made man, and to die for thee? "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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A friend who attended the group in Liverpool recommended I attended the group in Birmingham as I lived close-by, so I thought I would see what it was like.  Having only lived in the area for a few years, I did not know many people in Catholic circles.  I attended mass, but I only knew a few people in my parish.  All the people I knew through church and going to Lourdes were from the Archdiocese where I grew up in Liverpool.  It was due to this I wanted to extend my network and spend some reflective prayer time with fellow Catholics in the area.

It was May 2014 and I was in the middle of completing my clinical psychology doctorate.  Although very enjoyable, it was also stressful and I felt I needed more quiet prayer time.  I was hoping the Redemptorist group may be able to provide this.  On my way to the first session, I had many thoughts fluctuating in my head; ‘what will it be like?’ ‘What will people be like’?  ‘Will I enjoy it?’  I need not have worried, immediately the group made me feel very welcome.  I had met Paul previously (who runs the group) in Liverpool, through our mutual friend, Pat, who attends the Liverpool group, so felt some familiarity.  The rest of the group were equally friendly and I did not feel judged in any way.

 

Paul leads the sessions really well, but equally gives us space to say what we want to say.  I really enjoy exploring topics which I had somewhat forgotten about.  Having a focus for each session helpsraise my awareness of important elements. For example, we focused on the Holy Spirit one week, which I had not thought about for a long time.  We touched upon using the sign of the cross and thinking about what the Holy Spirit means to us and that the sign of the cross is a prayer in itself.  Short video discussions have been helpful to aid our discussion and reflections in many areas.

Another aspect I have enjoyed has been silent/quiet prayer time.  Leading a busy life, I don’t always give myself the opportunity to do this and this has been a nice space to be able to do this.  We also get the chance to say prayers aloud and share this with the group, which feels a supportive element, that we are not alone.

Gathering socially after the group session has been another nice space to develop friendships and to eat some nice food!  This feels an important part of the evening and I always enjoy the evening as a whole and go home with a smile on my face.

The option of retreats and other activities provided locally and nationally are another great aspect of the group as previously I did not know all of this was occurring.  It showed that not only was there a group locally, but we could congregate with others further afield.  Lots for us to engage in and further develop and strengthen our faith.

It is also nice to hear visiting priests discuss the Redemptorist faith and what that stands for and we recently had Fr Maurice give an interesting talk about Redemptorist Spirituality.  This culminated in a shared supper at the end of the evening with everyone coming together; a sense of feeling belonged, my Catholic family in the area. Long may this continue.

 Damian Wilde