The Catholic practice of ‘going on retreat’ is as old as Christianity itself. Jesus’ forty days in the desert after his baptism by John has inspired many over the ages. Today retreats for lay people usually involve a day, a weekend or longer away from home and familiar routines. Usually under the direction of a priest or spiritual leader, retreats consist of talks, reflections, and ‘alone time’ for prayer and spiritual reading. The following three retreats were held recently.
Men’s retreat Gaudete et Exsultate
Thirty-five men from the Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Wellington and Palmerston North gathered for a day retreat in July to reflect on the theme ‘Jesus, Our Strength’. Fr Neil Vaney and Sr Sue Cosgrove dolc led the retreat at the Home of Compassion, Island Bay. Fr Neil talked about ‘Holiness Today’ based on Gaudete et Exsultate. He discussed how holiness is for all and everyone is called to imitate the life of Jesus and find God in our daily lives. Sr Sue spoke about Suzanne Aubert’s spirituality and how we might each apply mercy values. There was also time for personal reflection. A liturgy of the Second Rite of Reconciliation was held. Fr Neil emphasised Jesus is our reconciliation. The day concluded with Mass in the chapel.
Retreat at Kopua
In July, a four-day retreat directed by Fr Eddie Condra was held at Southern Star Abbey, Kopua, with participants from Wellington to Whakatane. The focus came from Fr Eddie’s Remapping Our Souls. We explored our images of God and our identity as Catholics. Each day, retreatants enjoyed directed sessions and other activities, such as walks, fireside conversation, reflections and silent prayer. The monks at the Abbey invited us to join them in Mass and Compline. The retreat was encouraging and restored a stronger connection to our Catholic identity.
First Spiritual Exercises Retreat
A five-week Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life with daily reflections from ‘Inner Peace in Divine Love’, was held earlier this year at Ss Peter and Paul Church, Johnsonville. It was run by the Christian Life Community. Thirty participants met weekly in small groups to share their life experience to pray and meditate using exercises developed by Fr Michael Hansen sj. For some it was their first experience of a retreat since school days. CLC thanked all those who took part, as well as Fr Peter Fitzgibbon and the parish community for their support.