For a focus on environmental justice, what better idyllic spot to choose than French Pass in the outer Marlborough Sounds where a group of 14 people with an interest in social justice from around the archdiocese recently made a weekend retreat. This area is steeped in the history of NZ’s earliest European settlers.
We looked at the effect on the environment of our use of the earth’s resources, related this to the church’s teaching on social justice linked to our faith.
Leaders Sr Mary Hepburn and Fr Alan Roberts drew largely on host Danny Boulton’s extensive knowledge of local conditions and his passion for protection of the marine environment.
From the Friday evening hilltop meditation, to the final prayer session around noon on Sunday, we became aware of the issues facing our marine environment and the threat to the fish, mammal and bird life around our shores. There was time for meditation, prayer, reflection, reconciliation, Eucharist, learning, sharing—and the gift of community with meals together.
The fact that it was the wettest weekend in the area for some time left us undaunted as we took opportunities between the heaviest downpours to walk on the beach and on hillside tracks.
The boat trip to D’Urville Island on Sunday morning with a commentary from Danny on the bird and mammal habitats we visited, and his personal observations of a decline in numbers, was enhanced when we were surrounded by a large pod of dolphins.
We came away from the weekend profoundly spiritually enriched, enthusiastic about taking greater care of our environment and encouraging others to do likewise.
Our thanks to hosts Lyn and Danny for looking after us so well, and to all who helped with the abundant healthy food.
Thoughts on sharing the Mass
The dim lighting and seating arrangement – in a circle – was a perfect setting for our Mass. The light constantly flickering in the centre of the room brought the presence of the Holy Spirit right into our midst and made this a deeply moving and spiritual experience for me. The feeling of peace and friendship was strong and when the time came to receive communion, passing the paten and chalice round to each other was a special way of giving each other a blessing and our thanks for a wonderful retreat.
Pictures: Top right: Agnes McIlveney and Jo McLean; middle: some of the group contemplating the environment of French Pass; bottom: Mary Hepburn rsm and Mary Betz of Caritas.