The miracle of five loaves and two fish
Sharrol Jose is amazed by the relentless faith of a bunch of youngsters from Loyola College, Chennai. From a few members, they have come a long way in short time. They share about witnessing the power of unceasing prayers and how faith is leading them on Campus.
There was something different about them. But, what is it? I was curious to find out. Here’s a bunch of determined youth from Loyola College (Chennai, India) who is making waves on campus with their prayers and acts of mercy. This is the story of their unwavering faith. Meet Ivin Maria Mathew, Aju Soni Thomas, James Sebastian, Joyeson S, Adheena Mary George, Eddith Sara Varghese, and Sharon Maria Jose.
Q. Ivin, we see so many changes on your campus last year. How did all this begin?
IVIN: It all began with the National Campus Conference in October, 2016. A small group of us attended it and we were asked to share our dreams for the campus. We decided to dream big and started praying. Our first opportunity came when ILO (In the love of the Lord), the zonal campus program, was planned. Since we wanted to host it on our campus, we started interceding for the intention.
Loyola College has a huge campus with five different Institutions. We walked around in groups and recited rosaries especially around the hall where we wanted to host the program. We surrendered our dreams to Mary and went on our knees (literally) to get the venue. And we got it! This was the first time a zonal JY program was being held on our Campus. We started to intercede more for ILO program with Rosaries and Divine Mercy Chaplets, and even used all kinds of social media for intercession.
Prayer was the back bone of the program and it was a great learning experience for all the team members. As a result, we got a strong group of people praying, supporting, and dreaming big for the Campus. Love Campaign, an outreach to clean up different places brought us together in practicing acts of mercy. With the power of prayer and fellowship, our prayer group was strengthened. This has inspired me to be more rooted in Jesus and Jesus Youth.
All of us in the core team had a lot of dreams. Believing in the power of prayers, we dreamt big. Soon, we planned for ‘IGNITE,’ a one day program for freshers. We started our intercession with rosary in the evenings.
Q. How did u prepare for ‘IGNITE’?
AJU SONI: This was the first time such a program was conducted in Loyola. We started rosary intercession and collected prayer support from other campuses in the zone. We mobilised through social media, one to one, peer groups, poster, videos, and all other forms of communication possible. We had an intercession room with adoration and confession, and all volunteers took turns to sit before the Lord. Today, we have more than 60 committed youth. Truly, this is the fruit of all the intercessions. It reminded us of the miracle of five loaves and two fish. This group is now actively involved in all the initiatives of the prayer group.
Q. Was this just a group which always pray?
JOYESON: During the year, we had a few fellowship gatherings which helped us to forge a good bond amongst ourselves. On September 8, Mary’s feast day, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni, Besant Nagar. Fr. Prince our chaplain celebrated mass for us and we had a time of fellowship, music, celebration, and games on the beach nearby. This outing really bridged the gap between seniors and juniors. Many more people were willing to come to prayer meetings after this. We had another outing to the Shrine of St. Thomas the Apostle, Little Mount. A Christmas outreach to Mithra, the differently-abled school, saw more than 100 students from the college coming together. We had a display of the nativity and other fun games for the kids. We also did a bicycle riding to the beach. All these helped us to reach out to many more youth.
Q. One of the main events in the college was the Prolife Exhibition –Livet. Could you please share how you prepared for it?
EDITH &SHARON: The main strength of this exhibition was our intercession. It was a three-month preparation. More than 1000 people joined in this. We prayed Rosary of the Unborn, and Holy Blood. We also prayed specially for the pregnant and unborn daily. We started a special intercession where two people walked around the venue of the Livet by praying the Rosary of Life daily for three months. In addition to this, we prayed 100 creeds daily for 33 days. We had a special adoration in the college chapel for Prolife intentions. Seeing some of us praying, someone asked us, “Why are you doing this in the hot sun and wasting your time. Will God listen to your prayers?” They had to wait till the exhibition for an answer.
Q. And, how did the exhibition go?
IVIN & JAMES: The exhibition was held on March 8, 2018. We set up the stalls and were ready the previous night. We opened by 10am. There was a continuous stream of visitors the whole day. The Principal and various members of the faculty visited the stalls. Many were enlightened and shared that they found a new meaning in life. It was a new experience for many youth. Our faculty were amazed that youth were so concerned for life and were able to do such an amazing thing on a campus of more than 9000 students. One of our professors saw the exhibition and returned with her students. Videos on Prolife were put on the college website on that day. More than 1000 people visited the exhibition that day. It went way past the working hours and into the night wherein we had to hold torch lights for lighting up the area.
It was indeed a miracle. We expected many challenges but with the strong prayer support, everything went smoothly. After the exhibition, those who had questioned us and doubted us came and said, “It’s a great thing that you have done. God has certainly heard your prayers.”
Also, we had on-going adoration in the Chapel during the time of the exhibition. It was a great spiritual encounter of all of us. We were amazed by the support we received from every quarter. We are also thankful for the support and guidance we got from the senior Jesus Youth and elders.
Q. What was the response of the college authorities to the Jesus Youth prayer group?
JOYESON: We felt Mother Mary was recognizing our prayers when our campus minister, Fr. Leolin invited us, the Jesus Youth, to put up a Rosary stall during the yearly Rosary Procession for the Loyola group of institutions on our Campus. It was a big recognition for us.
Q. Were there any initiatives for women?
SHARON & ADHEENA: Another fruit of this year was the prayer meeting we could start in the women’s hostel. As a preparation for the Prolife exhibition we kept a bottle in the prayer room, in the hostel, and a box of “Manjadi Kuru” seeds near it. We asked people to pray for the exhibition and also for the Syrian refugees. After reciting a Hail Mary, they were asked to put a seed into the bottle. The bottle was filled to the brim with more than 2500 seeds within two weeks. When we removed the bottle at the end of the prayer period, many of the girls came and requested us to continue this prayer campaign. We restarted it and the cycle of prayer for various intentions still continues. We also kept another box to receive prayer intentions which we pray daily in the hostel.