September 11, 2013 — As leader of the Apostleship of Prayer’s Hearts on Fire retreats for the past four years, Jesuit Father Phil Hurley knows a thing or two about young adults and faith.
Fr. Hurley recently completed his assignment as youth and young adult director for the Apostleship of Prayer, a Jesuit apostolate based in Milwaukee, and is beginning the tertianship phase of his Jesuit formation in Chile.
The Hearts on Fire retreat, a two-day retreat for young adults ages 18 to 39, offers young adults practical ways to connect faith and everyday life. “By taking a Friday night and a Saturday to focus on faith, participants can set their hearts on fire for Jesus by better understanding that their prayer lives and daily lives are one and the same,” said Fr. Hurley.
Though he admitted to once being uninterested in his faith after high school, Fr. Hurley credits youth ministry leaders for helping him rediscover his prayer life. “People dedicated to youth and young adult ministries helped me in the faith and in college helped me come back after a few years of being away,” he said in a telephone interview with The Argus Leader in South Dakota.
Hearts on Fire Retreats are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits. Presentations on the retreat cover a range of topics: a sample theme centers on the question, “How do we follow Christ more closely?” Live music and time for socializing are also planned in the retreats, which end with a Saturday vigil Mass. Retreat leaders urge participants to conduct follow-up sessions, meeting in small groups or social settings, as a way to stay involved locally.
Fr. Hurley also shared reflections on his retreat work with the Ignatian News Network. “Hearts on Fire has afforded me the opportunity in working with these other young Jesuit priests and scholastics to really do work that focuses on the ministry of the Word, that focuses on sharing the Spiritual Exercises and that involves us speaking from the heart to the young adults that gather.”
Hearts on Fire has given retreats in 30 cities across the United States and Canada, including Sioux Falls, S.D., Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Indianapolis. The Hearts on Fire team is currently exploring the possibility of returning to some of these cities with a “Heart on Fire 2.” According to Fr. Hurley, those who have attended before have said it is beneficial to revisit the topics.
“Some of the themes from the spiritual exercises are really perennial,” said Fr. Hurley. “We do some of the same meditations, but the Lord takes it in a deeper way. We as Jesuits do that, going back to the same place in prayer.”