|St Cuthman's Retreat Centre|
In October 2001, St Cuthman’s was officially opened by Bishop Kieran Conry. Bishop Kieran’s predecessor, Bishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor, had secured the house and grounds for the Diocese, before his appointment as Archbishop of Westminster. With the refurbishment completed the first guests were welcomed on 15th October, and 10 years later over 22,500 people have used the facilities at the Centre.
The early years were taken up with building on what had been inherited from the St Julian’s community, the previous owners of the house, and spreading the message about this new Diocesan facility. A decade later, St Cuthman’s has established its own identity and history and has a clear sense of its mission. As well as providing space for individuals and couples, the Centre welcomes full-house and small groups for residential retreats, provides day conference facilities in the Garden Rooms, and welcomes day visitors for Quiet Days.
“A still point in a turning world”
From the outset St Cuthman’s was open to people of all denominations and faiths and those of none, and this has remained a defining feature of the Centre. This has enabled the Diocese to fulfil its ecumenical outreach in Sussex and beyond. The morning and evening prayer services in the simple chapel, led by the staff and volunteers, underpin the daily routine and are greatly enriched by the diversity of those who join in.
Both the original refurbishment and the ongoing maintenance of such an old building have put heavy demands on the finances of the Diocese, particularly in the first few years, but the investment has paid off, leaving the Diocese with a substantial asset and valuable resource.
The priests and people of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton can feel proud of their Diocesan Retreat Centre. On a daily basis, in their name, many people are benefitting from this important resource. Tired and stressed clergy, of all denominations, get the chance to re-charge their batteries and return to their ministries refreshed. Carers get a chance to catch up on sleep and have some precious time to themselves. People of faith come closer to God. Those who have strayed from their faith are touched by the Holy Spirit and feel the pull to return. Those who are bereaved, or struggling to come to terms with illness, loss or other major trauma can find the space and courage to start afresh.
It is a truly blessed place and if you have not yet had a chance to spend any time here, why not come along for a Quiet Day.
We are grateful to all those who have helped establish St Cuthman’s - the staff, past and present; the small team of faithful volunteers who give their time and labours so generously; the Friends of St Cuthman’s whose financial support has made a significant contribution to enhancing the Centre’s facilities; the group of Spiritual Directors who come in to support the guests; the Diocesan Pastoral Team and the priests and people of the Diocese. With this continued support we hope that St Cuthman’s can serve the needs of the Diocese for many decades to come.
To celebrate the 10th Anniversary, we are offering parishioners from the A&B Diocese the opportunity to come and spend a Quiet Day here, between October and the end of December 2011, at the reduced price of £20 (normally £25). Just give us a call or go to our website for more details. St Cuthman’s is yours – why not come and use it!
Article by Denise Mitchell, Director