Friday, 2 October 2009

On Retreat - Taking Time Out

This week together with the Bishop many of the priests and deacons are on retreat in Northern France at the Maison Diocesaine D'Accueil, Merville, France (pitured right). This is a former seminary and now retreat centre between Dunkirk and Lille. Being just across the channel it makes sure those who attend are not tempted to pop back to the parish. I am sure this uninterrupted time away has been a fruitful time of renewal for those who went.

This Diocese has its own retreat centre at St Cuthman's, Coolham near Horsham. This is a beautiful old house overlooking a lake (pictured left) with a beautiful, simple chapel. Previously an Anglican retreat centre it was taken on by the diocese in recent years and has been upgraded and adapted for modern retreat needs. After recent repairs to the roof it is now fully open again for indivdual and group retreats. In addition it has a meeting room for up to 22 people away from the retreat house in the grounds for day groups and meetings.

Blessed with a beautiful setting, and excellent accommodation and food it is an wonderful place for a few days or more rest, relaxation and retreat. It forms part of the pastoral care of the diocese both to Catholics, ordained and lay, and many others where they can come away on retreat. My own parish priest regularly stays there in order to refresh himself spiritually for life in the parish and I was myself recently there for a couple of days to work on my Masters.

Retreats are a wonderful opportunity to refocus our lives on God. You can find out more about retreats in other places through the Retreat Association. As Advent approaches it might be a good time to think about a retreat for a day, a few days or a week as we approach the great mystery of the incarnation, the Word made flesh. And why not give St Cuthman's a try!

'Harden not your hearts today, but listen to the voice of the Lord' (ps 94:8)

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