" The Infant Jesus, far from being sorrowful at this proposal, is pleased at it, accepts it with love, and exults in it! "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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When I first heard about the RYM Young Adult Group at Bishop Eton I was a little apprehensive. Unfortunately friends of mine had been to Young Catholic Adult groups and had been disappointed. They usually fell into one of two categories: too spiritless and nothing ‘Catholic’ about them, or rigid and unaccommodating to anyone who doesn’t share the same views as the leader of the group!

I didn’t know what to expect, whether everyone would have the same outlook and approach to religion that I had, and whether the style of worship and activities would be what I’d have chosen. I decided to leave my prejudices at the door and a year and a half later, I’m so glad I did. The group was not what I expected, and not how I would have done things – it was so much better! When I opened my mind to the possibility that this might just be a group of normal people doing something a bit different to what young people might normally do, I found a new spiritual home among a new group of fellow Catholics whom I am now proud to call my friends.

What is most wonderful about this group is the balance between prayer and social activities. There is a clear separation of the two, and we all seem to gel together in both sets of activities equally. We come together to pray – that is our primary aim – and to learn about our faith through music, scripture, talks and each others’ experiences. After about two hours in the church, church hall, or wherever we choose to conduct the spiritual side of the group, we move on to the social side – for a walk, sports, bowling, pub, pub quiz, a meal, etc. There is always a buzz of excitement because this is where our second aim of the evening is fulfilled – to make and maintain lasting friendships.

        

It is so wonderful to find a group of people who share your faith. Religion isn’t exactly in fashion these days but everyone comes to the group with such honesty, humility and a thirst and passion to open up to God that there is no awkwardness and no apologies. We worship together with such fervour that it sustains us for the fortnight ahead. And yet it is still gentle – Paul’s gentle approach leaves space for silence, for reflection, for time to just be present.   

        

The social element to the group is always fun. As tempting as it would be to just call it a night at 9:30 on a Tuesday evening after the prayer session, we’re all ready to go because we know it’ll always be a night to remember.

        

One of the highlights of this year was a weekend retreat to the beautiful Redemptorist retreat centre, Hawkestone Hall. I was fortunate to spend the weekend with 12 other members of the group, sharing meals, attending Mass, taking part in sessions exploring scripture, a really beautiful and profound healing service, and of course our usual late-night socialising! Before I probably would have considered myself a spiritual introvert, and probably would never have chosen to go on a group retreat, but this was an amazing experience which brought us all closer to God and closer together.

        

Overall I am immensely happy that I found this group, and proud of all that Paul has achieved during his short time here in Liverpool. Countless groups like this have been started and lost their appeal, but this group has gone from strength to strength, on some weeks attracting forty members! It has maintained many of the original members too, and we’re all starting to worry about where we’re going to go when we’re too old for the group! If you’ve heard about the group but haven’t yet joined us, then give it a go, you won’t be disappointed. There’s nothing to lose, and a lot to gain!

Natasha Pritchard