4 May 2012
Some 65 parishioners from the Hawke’s Bay Pastoral Area shared a six-day retreat at the beginning of March on Spirituality for Our Times – a shared experience of God, of Church, and of world.
The retreat led by Fr Michael Fallon, Margaret Green and Mary Fama from Community for a Better World Australia, is designed to give people an experience of coming together as a community of believers, open to the gift of salvation that God offers – a community of sisters and brothers united in Christ. It is an experience of Communion.
The retreat was held at St Peter Chanel Parish Community Centre, Hastings, with morning sessions repeated in the evening at St John’s College.
A deepened understanding
Organisers saw the retreat as an opportunity to grow in the Christian life as people and as communities. It gave participants a chance to deepen their overall understanding of the Church and its teaching, of Jesus and the Gospel, of God’s presence in the life of the world.
Most participants were from the Hastings area, but several came from Napier and a couple from Central Hawke’s Bay. The number of participants who attended most sessions averaged 65.
Through sharing this experience, participants grew in a spirituality of communion. This encourages a stronger sense of relatedness as a church community, as well as in the workplace, in society and in their wider environment.
Group work was enriched with many quotes from scripture, papal encyclicals and from the Second Vatican Council, ‘To those who believe in God’s love, Jesus gives assurance that the way of love lies open to all and that the effort to establish a universal brotherly-sisterly community is not a hopeless one’. Church in the Modern World 38.
Afterwards people said they were delighted to experience more of the Church in action with one person, a new convert, valuing finding out more about the ‘God-given, earth-shattering event that was Vatican II’.
Others called the retreat ‘a nudge to act’ and a way to discover new opportunities to serve God in and outside the parish community.
Another gained ‘deeper insight to communion of Church’ and yet another said ‘I can now understand what evangelisation is all about’.
The importance of collaborative ministry with the priest was appreciated with others saying their understanding of Church had been enriched so that they experienced God and community.