Hearts Aflame 2024

Hearts Aflame Fr Isaac blesses a participant during Healing Adoration

by Grace Challies, Special Projects Assistant

The annual Hearts Aflame National Summer School is always the first big Catholic event to usher in the new year. For most of its more recent history, it has been held in Marton, a small township between Whanganui and Palmerston North. With over 125 participants, this year’s Hearts Aflame had its largest attendance yet.

The first three days of the school were set aside as a time of retreat, this year led by Fr Justin CSJ, a brother of St John from the The Holy Family Parish in Christchurch West. He delved into the theme, “Behold, I make all things new”, doing so with humour, wisdom and searching questions, provoking deep self reflection. The next seven days were packed; providing participants with many opportunities to delve deeper into their faith. Each day saw the praying of the Divine Office and the offering of Mass. Lectures were given by dynamic speakers from around New Zealand and Australia. Each day also allowed free time for sports, swimming (to help people to cope with the intense heat), personal reflection and time to connect with other young adults from throughout the country.

A highlight was having the company of so many priests and religious, many of whom are quite young, and willing to give up their time after Christmas to be with us. Another was having Mass at the stroke of midnight, with many of the participants stating that it was the “best way to start the year”. Of course, the opportunity to connect with other young adults and feel supported in our journey of faith, is always a major highlight.

With Hearts Aflame Director, Jemma Brunton, stepping down after nine years of service, Jessica Jackman from the Christchurch Diocese is to take up this role. This year, Christchurch was the second largest diocese in attendance with over 30 participants. We hope there will be more next year, which will build up the young adult community in Christchurch.

Hearts Aflame Group from Christchurch