Diving Deeper: An Introduction to Duc in Altum

Today, our alumna Vanessa share her experience with a program offered in the Diocese called ‘Duc in Altum’. Many Newmanites have participated over the past few years. If, after reading this, you are curious or interested, check out the website: 

Before starting off, here’s a passage to reflect on:

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)

In a nutshell, this is Duc In Altum. The name of the program comes from the above passage; the Latin for ‘put out into the deep’ is – you guessed it! – ‘duc in altum’. In the Gospel of Luke, this is the passage where Jesus appoints the first of the Apostles. And as members of the apostolic Church, Jesus’ words to Simon Peter are the same words that he says to us today.

So what does it mean to put out into the deep? If you’re finding yourself at a crossroads in your life, or approaching big decisions with a lot of anxiety, you might have a sort of idea. Stepping into a new chapter of life is a lot like wading into murky, deep water – you don’t know whether you can keep standing for much longer, or where your next step will take you. It lacks clarity and direction; in short, it’s a challenge and an unknown. We encounter these kinds of situations daily, but it’s in the large-scale decisions that we really start noticing. I know that it was like that for me, when I was facing the last year of my undergraduate degree and wasn’t entirely sure what the next step was. I had ideas, but I didn’t know which was the one I was meant to take. And this isn’t just related to career – this affects where you live, what you do and who you spend the rest of your life with. You may have heard the word ‘discernment’ before to mean some kind of decision-making. I think the simplest way I can describe discernment is God-centered decision-making. How do we do that?

Don’t worry. God never leaves us stranded. Look what happens when Peter follows Jesus’ instructions, despite spending his entire night trying the same thing. They are entirely rewarded for their faith in Christ, and they immediately recognize who He is for it, choosing to follow Him. Even now, He is giving us signs and directions, guiding us towards His ultimate plan for us to reunite with Him in heaven. Maybe it’s in a moment at Mass, maybe it’s a conversation you had that sparked some ideas, or maybe it’s a chance encounter on the street. We simply have to be open and receptive of these things, and they will help make those moments of discernment a lot clearer.

Sounds great, but how? That’s where Duc In Altum comes in. Duc In Altum is a series of eight ‘encounters’ where a group of young people all seeking God in their lives move towards understanding themselves, understanding the Lord, and understanding how He is calling them to live their Christian lives. Each encounter is dedicated to a different facet of the Catholic faith, bringing together seemingly unconnected aspects of life and uniting them as a whole. In addition to the encounters, you are also paired up with a spiritual director (accompaniment, as it’s called) to help you mull over things discussed at each encounter and give some clarity to things you might be experiencing. It might seem like a lot of time to commit, but discernment is all about commitment, too!

If there is one thing that I have learned from being part of this program, it’s that everything is based on your identity as a child of God, and not only recognizing but integrating that into all parts of your life – including discernment – is key. Duc In Altum not only helped me learn new things about my relationship with Christ, but also put things I already knew in perspective, and gave me concrete ways to help strengthen my relationship. Not only that, it also introduced me to a group of wonderful people from all over the city who I was very blessed to be able to journey with, from all different walks of life.

I strongly encourage you to consider Duc In Altum, especially if you do see yourself at a junction point in your life and don’t know what to do next. Even if you’re not, think about it anyway; everyone has to make decisions in their lives at some point, big or small. God is constantly calling for you – take some time to listen, and make that call your own.


By Newman Catholic Students' Society Executive

For more information about the Newman Catholic Students' Society executive, please consult the Executive Committee page under the About menu on this website.