During a Columban seminary formation, the study of philosophy is followed by a spiritual year program. It is different.  This is a non-academic year where there are no exams, and all throughout the period, the seminarian is especially guided by prayer. Mosese Yacalevu from Labasa, Fiji, shares his personal reflection of the thirty-day retreat that is considered the highlight in this part of seminary formation.



 by Mosese Yacalevu

Initially, I was worried about the retreat. I did not fully trust myself to endure until the 30 days are over. But on my first night, I wrote the following on the whiteboard in my room, “In all that I do, with you, through you and in you, O Lord.” This personal prayer kept me focused. It became my firm foundation for the retreat.

Praying with the scriptures helped me understand the life of Jesus and in turn, drew me closer to God. I looked for guidance from the people who came into contact with Jesus to recognize the goodness in everything He says and does. These bible figures challenged me to change my life. Mother Mary spoke to me about facing my fears and Simon Peter called me to take risks more freely in life.

Whenever I felt desolated in my prayer, I made scripture phrases my personal mantras. “Do whatever he tells you, Moji,” “Take courage, Moji, it is I, do not be afraid,” and others overturned my fears and doubts during difficult times.

Daily spiritual direction with a priest, which I tried to approach with simplicity and honesty, brought me profound insights. I might have felt vulnerable at times yet I became stronger in faith. Trusting my Director and myself caused my self-doubts to disappear. Because I believe that God was working in us both, I was then able to look at sin in the context of God’s unconditional love and enduring mercy.

I shed tears when I reflected on my family and on my personal experiences. I came to see the way my life has changed through the years and how God has worked in me. I feel more genuinely alive. I stopped pretending to God and to those around me. I don’t mind being vulnerable in front of my peers anymore.

In addition, I understood the need to be humble in order to walk in the presence of the Lord. For me, this means being dedicated to the poor and marginalized in society. I must be a constant presence to share the love of Christ with them. One bible verse that I fell in love with is taken from Sirach 4:4“A beggar’s request, do not reject; do not turn your face away from the poor.” The poor have suffered a great deal and Jesus is asking me to love them.

In summary, my retreat experience changed me deeply. The Holy Spirit has brought me a deep self-discovery in the course of 4 weeks. Reflecting on the scriptures has deepened my relationship with God. For that I am sincerely grateful.

Mosese, leftmost, with his fellow seminarians and Fr. Finbar Maxwell (center), Spiritual Year Director