Who is Hearts Aflame for?
Hearts Aflame Catholic Summer School is for anyone aged 18-35 who wants to delve into the depth, breadth, beauty and wisdom of the Catholic faith.
What is Hearts Aflame? Is it a camp / conference?
Hearts Aflame is a ten-day event where you live on-site, attend lectures, take part in a community, and experience the breadth of the Catholic tradition. It is not a youth camp or conference.
We describe it as a ‘summer school’ because it’s focused on formation and development – spiritual, intellectual, social. For more info, check out the question ‘What goes on at Hearts Aflame?’
What goes on at Hearts Aflame? What is the timetable?
Every day we celebrate Mass and pray, share meals as a community, enjoy some free time, and have some lectures or talks on different aspects of the Catholic faith. It can be an intense experience, especially for the first half of the week as you adjust to the time spent in discussion, lectures and prayer – but by the end of the school our participants are in love with the ‘rhythm of Hearts Aflame’!
Hearts Aflame begins on a Friday afternoon. The first three days – Friday to Sunday – are a retreat weekend, a time to step back from the world and listen intently to God. This retreat weekend is based on the theme of the school.
The next six days – Monday to Saturday – are the main part of the school. In the morning you attend your chosen lecture series, then in the afternoon there are discussion groups and some free time. Each evening has a session with a unique focus and style – for example, our Catholic Cafe or our beloved ‘Healing Adoration’ night.
Sunday is focused on farewells, a clean up, and a final celebratory Mass before everyone heads home.
Do I get to choose what I attend?
You get to choose which lectures to attend. Before the school begins you get to choose which series you’ll attend. The four lecture slots have up to five different lecture series and run for 2-3 days each.
There are also other optional sessions throughout the week, like discussion panels and prayer experiences. Other parts of our timetable are locked in: prayer times, meal times, and most of our night sessions.
How can I help Hearts Aflame? Can I join the team?
First of all – thanks for asking the question! We are glad to hear that Hearts Aflame has impacted your life or that of someone you know.
Prayer: Our biggest need is prayer. Through the grace of God, Hearts Aflame has been running since 1992 – and we know that it’s only with God that it can continue! This ministry is consecrated to St Joseph – click here to download our St Joseph prayer that our team prays. If you want to join our group of intercessors who pray for specific intentions during the school, please contact us.
Promotion: We encourage you to spread the word about Hearts Aflame. Talk to your friends, speak about it at your parish, share our social media. We want every young Kiwi to have the opportunity to attend, and that can only happen if they’ve heard about it.
Donation: Every year we need to raise over $20,000 to keep Hearts Aflame running. The only source of funding we receive comes from independent donations. If you can help – whether it’s $1 or $1000 – please visit our donations page or contact us.
Volunteers: Organising and running a ten-day event for 120+ people takes a lot of effort! If you think that you could help in small or big ways, please contact us. Please note though: we want our participants attending the school to remain focused on their experience as participants, not volunteers.
Planning Team, Speaker, Helper: Our Planning Team carefully discerns every speaker, team member and helper. If you believe you have something to offer, please contact us. If you strongly feel called to help in one of these ways, begin by helping in small ways so that our team can get to know you better and recognise how you could fit in to a school in the future.
Registration & Attendance
Why does Hearts Aflame cost what it does?
We know that hundreds of dollars is a big ask and it’s not easy for everyone to gather the registration fee, but rest assured that as a team we do everything we can to keep the costs down. We encourage you to reach out to your local parish if you need financial support.
Split over the ten days, the fee is a bit under $60 per day. That $60 covers your food, accommodation and a small amount goes towards other expenses (like lanyard and booklet). The majority of costs – such as flights and accommodation for our world-class lecturers, or purchase and maintenance of tech gear – is covered by additional fundraising.
Can I pay off my registration fee over a few months?
Yes! You can choose to register by paying a $100 deposit on your registration then paying the rest off before the school starts. More information is on our registration page.
Are there grants or discounts available?
We encourage you to first approach your local Catholic parish. A connection with your local community is important, and we’ve found that many parishes, priests and laypeople are eager to help young adults grow in their faith.
If your local community is unable to support you, we occasionally receive donations specifically to cover someone’s registration fee. If we receive any donations specifically for registrations, these will be given out at the discretion of the Planning Team and only to people who have already requested support from their local community / parish. Contact us if you want to request a registration grant.
Do I need to be a practicing Catholic?
Definitely not! So long as you’re open to engaging with new or different ideas, eager to learn more about Jesus and the Catholic Church, and willing to commit to the timetable of the school, we’d love to have you join us. It’s worth us mentioning that Hearts Aflame is not designed as a ‘first-step’ evangelisation event; it’s for people who want to grow in their relationship with Christ and in their understanding of the Catholic faith.
If you’re not a Catholic, we ask that you send us a recommendation letter from a priest before you register. This helps us ensure that all attendees are ready to fully engage with what we have on offer.
I’m under 18 / over 35 - can I still attend?
Hearts Aflame is designed for young adults – a vague term, admittedly, but we define it as 18-35. This age group can struggle to find opportunities for formation or community in the Church, right at the time in their life when they’re ready to seriously commit to their faith, so we’re focused on creating an event that caters to them.
Having said that, we can sometimes admit people just outside of this age bracket. The ten day experience requires maturity, self-discipline, and a readiness to engage with everyone from teenagers just leaving school to adults in their 30’s with children. Contact us if you want to request a special admission. If you’re under, we will require a letter of recommendation from your local priest.
Can I come part time?
The ten days of Hearts Aflame are designed as a ‘full package’, with each part leading into the next and creating a unique experience of community. We encourage everyone to attend the full school. However, we’re aware that for some people it’s just not possible, so we do sometimes permit part-timers to join us. If you’re unable to attend the full ten days, please contact us to discuss your options.
Can I have my own room?
One of our two main accommodation blocks consists of single-bed rooms, which means that about half of our participants sleep in single rooms. If you require your own room due to special circumstances (medical etc), we’ll do our best to ensure you have your own space. Please contact us to discuss this before registering.
Can I cook my own food?
Most of our rooms don’t have kitchen facilities, so cooking your own food usually isn’t possible. The kitchen staff at our current venue are extremely accommodating and able to work with most dietary needs. If you are bringing children or there are other special circumstances, please contact us to discuss your options.
Can I go off-site?
We and our venue have health & safety requirements around knowing who’s on-site at any given time. Free Time in our schedule (for about 2-3 hours each day) is just that: free. So long as you sign out for our health & safety purposes, you’re welcome to visit people nearby or head into town for a coffee.
Hearts Aflame is an ‘all-in’ experience. Outside of free time, we ask participants to remain on-site and participate fully with the rest of the Community by attending all the sessions. However if you do find you need some time out, we have private, quiet spaces available and a great pastoral care team.
Can I drop in to visit / have people drop in to visit me?
Hearts Aflame is designed as a community and retreat experience. Visitors dropping in can be disruptive to that experience, and we aren’t able to accommodate visitors for meals or any of our lectures or night sessions. However, locals or people passing by are welcome to join us for our daily Mass.
If you want to drop in to the school this year, please contact us to discuss whether it will be appropriate.