First Spiritual Exercises for the most vulnerable

First Spiritual Exercises for the most vulnerable

Corpus Christi Community, Greenvale Victoria, is a residential care facility that provides accommodation and support for marginalised older men with a history of homelessness, addiction, or complex health needs.  It offers a fresh start for a life that’s safe, secure, independent and part of a vibrant community.  Annmaree Sutton, JISA-Campion Outreach Ministry Greenvale Coordinator, reflects on her experiences of sharing the First Spiritual Exercise in this community.

Whispering flames of the Spirit delicately dances, a spectacular orb spider, spinning her web. The naked eye may not initially see the Spirit’s presence at Corpus Christi Community in Greenvale, but, just stop, be still, listen and observe.  A collage of colour and creativity comes to life! You will see the burning embers of Mother Teresa’s love and compassion continue to thrive and be osmotically absorbed into to all the men who have lived and live in this community- their ‘home’

In 2010 Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality received a request for a team of Spiritual Directors and Retreat Givers to come to Corpus Christi Community to support, hold and nurture the Spirit. Campion Outreach Ministry was born. Over the past ten years many dedicated Campion team members have answered God’s call to go and give, bringing their wisdom, life experiences and hope. To sit where Jesus sits. To be a listening presence amongst the broken…society’s….. outcasts.

And here at Corpus Christi Community the seeds of the First Spiritual Exercises were cracked open and scattered. We have the privilege of witnessing and sharing with the men, the graces they receive… From extraordinary artwork to small acts of generosity and kindness. Dave Ryan SJ says “The First Spiritual Exercises offer the men a breathing space.” The team’s working days Tuesdays, Thursdays at CCC are always filled with life giving moments. However Tuesday’s FSE evening time with the men in a sacred space, allows us all to just ‘be.’ For some it’s a settling time to let go of buzzing voices in their heads. For others a deep desire to heal.

Anne Priestley RSM, recalls being in deep conversations with ‘Bob’. In contemplating the mystery of the night sky, the universe and a growing awareness of mystery within, he shared, just before he died-“my true self is coming out at last”.

My own standout story of transformation has been journeying with ‘Don’ who hit his rock bottom. Like a butterfly he emerged from his dark tomb, finding a new passion in art, now spends his days giving back to all his fellow companions with joy and real zest for life.

The men here may not alway speak, yet, in the quiet of receiving the First Spiritual Exercises, God always speaks to them.

Annmaree Sutton
JISA-Campion Outreach Ministry Greenvale Coordinator