Who Is It For & What Are Its Benefits?
by Fr Michael de Stoop
(Catholic Communications Sydney, 2005, 64pp, $10.00. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Under Cardinal George Pell's leadership, the Sydney Archdiocese has developed some of the most active and effective youth evangelisation programs in Australia. Among these is Catholic Youth Services whose chaplain is the author of this invaluable little book.
Fr Michael de Stoop is one of a new generation of Australian priests characterised by an infectious enthusiasm for the Catholic faith and a desire to spread it among young Catholics. His book is based on practical experience in providing spiritual direction for the young men and women in Sydney who set aside one or two years to help parishes establish youth groups or help Catholic schools run retreats.
In his foreword, Cardinal Pell describes Fr de Stoop's aim as to help "all serious young Catholics to become more Christ-like".
The book is divided into concise sections containing a wealth of practical tips for those involved, e.g., "What is spiritual direction?", "The biblical and ecclesial foundations", "History of spiritual direction", "What can I expect a spiritual director to do?" and "What to look for when choosing a spiritual director".
The clear, attractive layout make it easy to follow the book's suggestions, while the numerous quotes from Scripture, the saints, Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church provide a solid foundation.
The strong endorsements of Spiritual Direction from many leaders in youth ministry around Australia confirm the book's practical value and orthodoxy. For example, Melbourne's Shannon Donahoo (an occasional contributor to AD2000) writes: "This book will be useful for all levels of youth ministry as well as in schools (especially in preparation of retreat programs). As a teacher, I consider this to be a valuable resource in teaching authentic R.E. If you are interested in growing closer to the Lord - or helping others to - then you must read this book!"