WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Retreat in Daily Life

WelCom September 2019:

Clare Barrett

Retreatants, front: Margaret Arrowsmith holding log from a Gisborne river and Trish Kelly; back (l-r): Ghital Fernando, Sam Salamat (obscured), Judith Salamat, Paul Ronberg and Karen Ward. Photo: Mary Jackson Kay

The Cenacle Retreat Team led a ‘Retreat in Daily Life’ for parishioners of Te Whaea Tapu o Kāpiti – Our Lady of Kāpiti Parish, 9–14 June this year. The retreat team comprised Srs Mary J Kay, Clare O’Connor, Anne Powell, Mrs Ronnie Parton, Mrs Merle Whiteman and Fr Alan Roberts.

People met for an hour in small groups instead of in individual sessions. Each had a prayer guide for singing a hymn, reflecting on scripture or a poem, being led through a guided meditation, and sharing silence and prayer experiences in an environment of respect, kindness, confidentiality and faith.

At the end of the week, participants came together on the last evening full of the hope, courage and joy of a nourishing retreat. A polished piece of wood from a river in Gisborne, Mary Jackson Kay’s hometown, was passed from person to person as they shared thoughts on their graced experience from the week. It felt like family with laughter, tears, surprise and love in the room. This was not a parish event with separate communities from an amalgamated parish; it was one community with Christ present.

Retreatant Tony O’Connor said, ‘If you accept your weaknesses, it doesn’t matter how bad, God will make the space inside you with His Spirit.’ And Judith Salamat, ‘God has manifested His wonderful and mysterious ways through this recollection. Thank you, God for the angels around us – the language of love that has bound us together.’

Meditating in a room with more people than just yourself can be a powerful experience – you can see why our Buddhist brothers and sisters encourage sitting meditation in groups.

The retreat left everyone with hope and a way forward. Anne Powell, addressing the parish Mass the following Sunday, said, ‘How do people move from confusion, terror, and anguish, to a place of hope, or forgiveness and even joyful hospitality? I think it’s through the grace of community, solidarity and prayer. And these were the graces of the parish retreat last week.’