Good morning!

I’m back in London from what truly was an eye-opening weekend!

Thank you all for your prayers!

With the missionaries of charity Toni and I assisted a group of about 20.

Most of them are staying with the sisters and find themselves in very difficult life situations including drug addiction, out of prison, asylum seekers, homelessness.

Many do not know what they will do or where they will go afterwards. In age, most were under 40.

What was amazing about this weekend was that the gift the sisters wanted to give the guys wasn’t the weekend break in the countryside with nice food but was HOPE in their situations.

The real ‘charity’ that they needed was to know the mercy of Jesus and the hope that there is with Jesus to have a future when all seems black!

And so fittingly at 3pm (hour of mercy) on Saturday we all prayed the divine mercy chaplet after which there was a talk!

The talk was by young man who’s life had been transformed by Jesus. He too found himself in what seemed like hopeless situation after hopeless situation just like them!

Like many of them, his life went wrong and he found himself living overseas where he often had no money, no family, no friends, health problems, Visa problems…..and yet somehow he never gave up hope!

Of course this young man is me and I have to say that it was such a privilege to share to everyone the hope that there is in Jesus to transform every situation!

After the talk which went on for what seemed like eternity we had a beautiful adoration/ prayer/ confession service.

We were all given a sheet of paper on which we wrote down where we felt blocked and without hope in life!

One by one we brought our hopeless situations to the reservoir of hope…the divine mercy!

A basket was placed at the altar where we prayerfully brought our intentions.

At this point I must back track a little bit and mention that our retreat was accompanied by a a wonderfully kind and loving franciscan priest from Walsingham, Fr James-Mary!

He grew up in Ireland and we immediately clicked! He even invited Seamus, Toni and I to Walsingham (a shrine of Our Lady), an offer we will certainly accept!

Fr James-Mary blessed each retreated with Jesus before taking the ‘basket of hopelessness” outside to a fire where he burnt it!

The priest, Fr James-Mary, representing Jesus was taking these burdens and replacing them with hope!

He also heard many confessions and gave us some wonderful talks especially about the love of God and the place of Our Lady.

The sisters worked tirelessly with such amazing love to rekindle the flames of hope in each person.

We watched a wonderfully inspiring video about Nick Vunicic, a man born without hands or feet who after an experience of God is now an inspirational speaker on hope!

As the weekend ended we were all given a beautiful little book with the daily gospel reading and we sang our way back to London!

As I reflect on this weekend what I feel that was so extraordinary was that it was all about bringing the mercy of Jesus to those who haven’t really experienced it yet!

So often I have found myself at retreats with the same people and faces and while it’s beautiful that they want more of Jesus, it’s sad that they don’t bring more people with them!

If we are not careful we can get addicted to ourselves and to wanting more healing and forget about others!

Prayer meetings can turn into clubs for the elite and those in most need of hearing about Jesus can find themselves without an invitation!

Indeed, in my own ministry to the gay community and experiences of horrific hypocrisy and rejection in world renowned centres of mercy such as Medjugorje this weekend retreat was truly a breath of fresh air!

And so now back in London, the mission of mercy continues and I hope, pray and trust that more and more situations will present themselves to bring the healing power of prayer and hope to those who need it the most!

An enormous thank you to the missionaries of charity for their contagious love and charity and may each one of us today allow Jesus to use us to reach out in love and mercy beyond the boundaries of comfort so that through us Jesus may touch more and more hearts and lives and bring our catholic church back to its roots of love, life and charity!

Our Lady, pray for us and bless each person that did the retreat this weekend, that their hope may burn like a raging fire and destroy all hopelessness and despair as they journey forward!

Thanks for reading!

Have an amazing week!

Michael