by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — More than 100 young people from Kaitaia to Dunedin took part in Exult 2014, an annual retreat camp organised by Catholic charismatic group Jesus Youth New Zealand, from May 31 to June 2 at Hunua Falls Camp.
Jesus Youth NZ national coordinator Soji Joseph said Jesus Youth started in the mid-1980s as an off shoot of Catholic charismatic renewal in India.
“We always say Jesus Youth is not an organisation, but a network of young people trying to live a Jesus-centred life in today’s world. There for living out the ‘Jesus Youth lifestyle’ is the vital part of being associated with the Jesus Youth,” he said.
Mr Joseph said they believe the “God experience” needs to be nourished through the six pillars
of Jesus Youth spirituality: Personal Prayer, Word of God, Sacraments, Fellowship, Evangelisation and Option for the Poor.
Organisers took seven months to prepare for the retreat. “We were fully dependent on God’s providence through prayers and sacrifices,” he said.Fifteen priests from Auckland diocese administered the sacrament of Reconciliation. The speakers were Australian priest Fr Bony Abraham, MGL; New Zealand priest Fr Tony Alex, ICPE; and Br Britz Mascarenhas from ICPE India. Sr Alba and Sr Rita Mary from the Little Sisters of the Poor inspired people with their
joy and love.
Mr Joseph said participants were encouraged to be a part of local Jesus Youth prayer groups so
they can grow in this spirituality. He said there is no formal membership and anyone who wants
to follow their lifestyle can join.
He said many Jesus Youth groups meet weekly in their parishes. The meetings include praise
and worship, teaching and fellowship.
Mr Joseph said although their group comes largely from the Indian community, they are slowly
reaching out to other communities.
“Though not in big numbers, there has been non-Indian involvement in New Zealand Jesus Youth
initiatives and programmes.”
Jesus Youth started in New Zealand in 2006. Exult started in 2010 with only 14 participants.
This year’s theme was Psalm 150: “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.” The feedback
“Exult 2014 allowed me to become more aware of my spiritual life and increase my trust for
standing up for God’s love in this world,” said Ashley Ho from Dunedin.
Aucklander Arun Paul said a retreat was the last thing on his priorities. “In fact, it was an experience like no other. I would say it was a much needed update in my life and set my priorities straight,” he said.
by ROWENA OREJANA