By Elisabeth van Dijl

During the first weekend of March we welcomed about 25 Friends of Minsteracres to our first ‘Daring Disciples’ retreat of the year. With this theme we want to connect with the missionary discipleship initiatives in the Hexham & Newcastle Diocese.

The word ‘daring’ was added both as a dare to all who want to be followers of Jesus and also to indicate the courage that is needed to be a disciple of Jesus. 

We started on Friday evening with a peaceful introduction, gently getting into the spirit of the retreat. The next morning we moved into the heart of the matter. What is a disciple? Who are our examples, both scripturally and throughout history? And we concluded that learning, understanding, following but above all loving, are essentials for discipleship. We then talked about our own experiences with discipleship. Many of us had never thought of ourselves as such and we considered what aspect of being a disciple spoke to us most (or least).

After lunch the Friends could have a rest, go for a guided walk, or be creative disciples in the Art Room.The walk through the grounds focused on what nature teaches us about discipleship and how life as a disciple impacts on our relationship with creation.

Later that afternoon we contemplated and prayed about what obstructs a loving relationship with Jesus and with those around us. What is stopping us from being disciples? There was time for private conversation, confession, adoration and meditation.  Watching the film ‘Of Gods and Men’ in the evening was a powerful reminder of the radical choices discipleship can involve.

On Sunday morning we gathered and talked about our experiences and daring choices we could see in our future. We ended the retreat where we started: in the chapel. We celebrated mass in gratitude for all that our Friends do for Minsteracres and for the loving relationship we have with Jesus and one another. And in spirit we were with all those who couldn’t be with us this weekend.  After a wonderful lunch we parted, hoping to see each other again soon!