♦ Why 'Samuel'?
Samuel Groups take their name from the story of the Prophet Samuel told in Chapter 3 of the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament.
Samuel, still a young boy, hears a voice call him by name and thinks it is the voice of the priest Eli. At first Eli does not realize what is happening but when the call is repeated a number of times he recognizes that this is the voice of God. He tells Samuel that when he next hears the voice he should answer, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."
The story of Samuel's vocation begins....
♦ Who are Samuel groups suitable for?
Samuel Groups are for single young adults (18-30s), who are wondering what God is calling them to do with their lives. The aim is to help participants discern their direction in life, whether this is to marriage or dedicated single life, to priesthood or consecrated life. It would also suit those who are making decisions about their career, or about spending time as a missionary or volunteer.
♦ What is the aim of Samuel?
All those who take part grow in their understanding of what it is to make decisions as a Christian; the main aim is that participants will end the programme with a clearer view of God's will for their life.
♦ What commitment is involved?
Participants take time to listen to God and to His Word speaking to their life. They commit to attending monthly meetings with the group, and to meeting individually with a spiritual guide.
♦ What is a spiritual guide? What will happen in the monthly meetings?
Guides are experienced people of prayer who walk with those they are guiding, and can suggest ways of renewing and deepening prayer. They listen as participants speak about their prayer life and can help them clarify what God is saying in prayer.
The monthly meeting with a spiritual guide is a time for the Samuel participant to speak in total confidentially about their prayer-life and their spiritual journey. Participants will share with their guide the question(s) they are bringing before God during the time of the Samuel Group and guides will help them to explore the decisions in the light of prayer.
Most participants in Samuel groups find that the individual spiritual guidance is one of the most helpful parts of the Samuel programme.
♦ What happens in the monthly group meeting?
The heart of the group meetings is a time of Lectio Divina or prayer with the Bible. As well as this there will be some social time, and often a guest speaker and time for discusion. The precise details will vary from group to group.
♦ What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina is "a very ancient art, practiced at one time by all Christians... a slow meditative praying of Scripture, which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. The art of lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear 'the ear of our hearts'..." (Fr Dysinger)
For more information visit Fr Dysinger's article on Lectio www.ccel.org/info/lectio.htm
♦ When did Samuel Groups begin?
Cardinal Martini began Samuel Groups in Italy in 1989. Each year for the following decade he brought together about 200 young people in his diocese of Milan for monthly meetings on Sunday afternoons. In recent years several Samuel groups have begun in the UK and in Autumn 2012 a network of Samuel Groups in the UK was launched.
♦ Where are there Samuel Groups and how can I apply to take part?
There are currently four Samuel groups in London (Euston, Kensington, Stamford Hill and Bethanl Green/Chingford) and groups in Bristol, Matlock and Manchester. Groups have also run in York and Oxford. Groups are planned for other locations in England and Wales in Autumn 2014.
Latest news: Samuel group beginning in Bangor autumn 2014.
For information about other discernment groups and opportunities visit NOV's directory of discernment groups.
A selection of photos from Samuel Groups: www.ukvocation.org/samuel-photos