A Melbourne couple will be trading their busy lives for a year of reflection and prayer at a monastic programme under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury this September.
Rachael and Jonathan Lopez, both of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, will be joining 14 other young Christians around the world at the Community of St Anselm, based in London's Lambeth Palace. The Community of St Anselm was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the programme is aimed at young Christians aged 20 to 35-years-old.
Students will spend 12-months drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study, prayer, and will they also be involved in various welfare and community engagements in London.
While the Lopezs were thrilled to learn they had been accepted, the decision to go ahead with their plans was not something they had taken lightly.
Jonathan had to say goodbye to his students at Melbourne's Reservoir High, where he had spent the last two years working as the school's chaplain, and for Rachael, it was a break from a decade long of study.
The couple applied for the programme after reading it on Facebook because the opportunity to spend a year learning from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Prior was something they did not want to miss out on.
Pupils are also required to "swear off all kinds of habits and comforts" and make God their number one focus during their time at St Anselm.
Jonathan said he would be learning how to switch off from the daily demands of life, and "integrating it into a focused time of silence" with God.
"Social media is one of the phenomenons in the digital age, and it's quite hard to switch off. If you're engaging with relationships, and pastoral relationships, through emails and through Facebook, there are definitely things that are difficult to turn off from or stop doing," he said.
Rachael said she used to be able to read a book for three hours without getting distracted, but with Netflix, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, concentrating for more than an hour has proven challenging.
Rachael hopes to achieve a better prayer life with God by the end of the programme. "It's been something I have struggled with throughout my life. When you're in a monastic community, you can't say 'oh, I'll do it tomorrow'," she said.
The Lopezs will be heading to the UK in mid-August before the course starts in September.
The Lopezs are looking to raise $60,000 towards the Community of St Anselm, with $47,000 towards fees, and $13,000 for flights, preparation costs and other expenses. While the Lopezs are personally funding a quarter of the cost, there is still need for funding from churches and individuals. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a giving form, and to also sign up for monthly updates.