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JRS Online Retreat: Day 25 – Education: A Burning Candle of Hope
Thursday, November 25, 2010

“The aim of Christian education... is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a ‘new creation,’ capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.”

As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:

Ask the Father to draw you into a deep experience of the Risen Jesus who will call you to a life of deeper compassion.  

Reflections for Prayer

Sr. Roxanne Schares, SSND
Former JRS Education Resource Person for Africa

Rome, 25 November 2010 – With joy and a spirit of inner freedom the Sudanese woman rose from the wooden bench. She stood to bear witness to graced transformation beginning in her life. It was the closing of a Jesuit Refugee Service peace education workshop in Lobone, southern Sudan, and Catherine described her insights.

"I had always been told and believed if there was any problem in the home, it was because of the woman. We women were the problem. Now I know that I am not the problem. From this workshop I realize that when there is problem, each contributes to it, and we can contribute to the resolution as well. I have knowledge and skills to begin to do that."

Set free with a true and stronger sense of identity and empowered to bring transformation to home and family, community and society, Catherine with other participants rejoiced in new life.

Working with JRS education projects in Africa, I was privileged time and again to witness hope, joy, and life beginning anew. Traumatized children found a space of safety at school and recovered their childhood and a sense of well–being. Discouraged youth — recognizing that without education they would remain slaves and victims of discrimination and conflict — struggled for and rejoiced in the chance to attend college. One shared, "I am sure the education I am getting is the only burning candle of hope I have in the darkness of this hopeless refugee situation." Through education refugees have dared to dream and to create a future.

Educational programs — whether primary school or college, vocational or teacher training, literacy or peace building and community development — touched and changed lives of children and youth; women, teachers, and local leaders; and soldiers and ex-combatants. Education provided knowledge and skills, values for life, and opportunity to envision and build with a more just and peace-filled world. Through education based on gospel values and responding to real human and spiritual needs, hope is discovered, lives are transformed, and individuals and communities are empowered to choose life.

The experience of refugees’ joy and transformation invites us to open ourselves to experience the Risen Jesus who continues to bring life, healing, and peace to the world. The God of Life calls us to respond and become instruments and witnesses of transformation. How are we called to share in the transformation process leading to deeper compassion and greater life? What witness will we bear?

Address God as a friend speaks to a friend. 

Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.

End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.

Suggested Reading for Prayer

Ephesians 1:17-21

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. 


"The aim of Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a 'new creation,' capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him." ~ Pope Benedict XVI