Catholic News

Hearts on Fire

Apostleship of Prayer members setting ‘Hearts on Fire’ with retreats

By Sara Angle

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Hearts on Fire, a Catholic young adult retreat program, is storming cities across the Northwest this summer.

No, “this is not the world’s most perfectly cut diamond,” joked Jesuit Father Phil Hurley, referring to a popular line of engagement rings. The priest is the national youth and young adult director of the Apostleship of Prayer, a Jesuit association leading the Hearts on Fire retreats.

The retreats are for young adults ages 18-39, married or single, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius and the spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer.

“It’s a crucial time for people in their lives,” Father Hurley told Catholic News Service, “they are at a place in their life that they can make decisions soon and take action on it right away and make a big difference.”

JESUIT PRIESTS REACHING OUT ACROSS COUNTRY TO HELP YOUNG ADULTS CONNECT SPIRITUALITY TO EVERYDAY LIFE Jesuit scholastics Sean Powers and Sam Sawyer and Jesuit Fathers Phil Hurley, Rob Van Alstyne and Mario Cisneros, pictured from left, are crisscrossing the country holding retreats of spiritual renewal for young adults, married or single, ages 18-39. The day-and-a-half experience is free for attendees and promises to give practical advice on connecting faith to everyday life. The group is pictured in Washington, where their Hearts on Fire summer tour started in June. (CNS)

Father Hurley explained that the retreat is focused on trying to connect faith to everyday life. Participants learn about the Apostleship of Prayer’s idea of making a morning offering, living the Eucharist throughout the day and ending the day with an evening review.

The retreat also leaves time for young adults to socialize with one another during meal times and a coffeehouse social.

At a June 17 Hearts on Fire retreat in Washington, Father Hurley spoke to a group of young adults about competing loves in life, such as hobbies, family, God and work.

“How do we get those different things ordered in our life so that our hearts really are on fire?” he asked the audience.

“When I read about this I thought, ‘That’s exactly what I’m looking for,'” said college student Amanda Ussak, who hoped to gain “a better sense of how young people like myself could better incorporate prayer and spirituality into my everyday life, not just that once a week, on Sunday at Mass.”

Phillip Kronstein, another retreat participant, said he was happy to attend because it’s often hard to find fellowship and people who share his values outside of specific parish-based young adult groups.

“We hope we leave you wanting more,” Sam Sawyer, a Jesuit scholastic and one of the presenters, told the group in Washington. “We hope for you to be drawn deeper into God’s love for you.”

“Hopefully this retreat leads us to make choices through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,” said presenter Sean Powers, also a Jesuit scholastic. Powers engaged the audience through anecdotes and comical references.

Sarah Yaklic, coordinator of young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington told CNS, “One of the goals of young adult ministry, especially in the Archdiocese of Washington, is to connect them (young adults) to their parish communities.”

Nathan Castellanos agreed with Yaklic, saying he feels young adults should be treated like “normal members of a parish.”

“I don’t like this whole separation into this weird category of young adult,” he said. “I feel like, as a young adult, no one asks very much of me, and I find that a little bit frustrating. You know, I have talents, I have skills, and I don’t find people asking to use those skills.”

Father Hurley told CNS he believes it is important for parishes to have a young adult ministry group, but also to incorporate young adults into the larger parish community by providing leadership roles.

“Young adults have particular needs but also have a unique perspective to offer,” he said.

In the end, Castellanos told CNS that he found “not necessarily big answers to life questions, but simple peace with where I’m at, and that’s a blessing.”

Hearts on Fire will be holding retreats this summer in Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., Baltimore, Richmond, Va., and more locations are expected.

– – –

Editor’s Note: More information about Hearts of Fire retreat program can be found at

%d bloggers like this: