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With the end of February, the second year Novices ended their long experiment and returned to the novitiate in Shubra, Egypt. The three Egyptian novice travelled to Jordan (Michael), Lebanon (Usama), and Syria (Hussam), while Mike, the Syrian novice, had his experience at the Petit Collège (primary school) in Cairo. They had various experiences of working with refugees, giving religion classes in our schools and doing various other pastoral works. All four came back enthusiastic about their experience and very grateful for the hospitality and support of the communities they were living with. Meantime the first year novices had the thirty day Spiritual Exercises from the 7th of February to the 7th of March in a retreat house in small village south of Luxor.

At the end of the retreat, the whole novitiate community, except Fr. Oliver, who was held back by teaching commitments in the Patriarchal Coptic Seminary and joined later, met in Luxor and from there proceeded to Aswan to spend 5 days together enjoying a well-earned rest and the pleasure of reuniting. Unfortunately, we were missing two members, a first year and a second year novice, who are in Lebanon undergoing some medical treatment.

The time in Aswan was a time to visit some of the most beautiful Egyptian monuments from the times of the pharaohs, and the famous Aswan High Dam, as well as to meet people from the Catholic community in the city. We stayed in a small guesthouse run by a Nubian family and built in the typical Nubian architectural style. At the end of the five days, it was time to start the long journey back, with a stopover in Luxor for the night. We left Luxor at 4 pm and arrived in Cairo at 4 am after a quite eventful journey. Now the novitiate formation programme is back in full swing, with the 1st year going deeper into the book of the Spiritual Exercises and their experience of it.

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s2smodern