Three years ago, after 36 years of active missionary life in Africa where she was part of a busy village, Therese got an e mail from her provincial.
“I had been thinking about where to move to next”, she explains. “Two things interested me. One was the hospice our order runs in Leeds, and the other was the idea of joining a retreat centre.”
The e mail from the provincial was about a post that had come up at Minsteracres. “I actually ran across the sand dunes to the phone and said yes straight away! “It was an answer to a prayer for me,” she explains. “I had a yearning in me to be part of a retreat team, but I couldn’t see how. Here was my chance.”
Therese arrived at Minsteracres in January 2010 to six feet of snow in the middle of one of the worst winters in recent years. Despite the weather’s frosty reception, three years down the line she couldn’t be happier, “I’m very excited about the whole retreat centre experience. I think it has a vibrant future here at Minsteracres.”
The three key elements of Minsteracres’ vision really chime for Therese. For example, since arriving back in England she has trained as a spiritual advisor and is one of the centre’s retreat team devising and delivering retreats to groups and individuals.
She also helps with the outreach programme, offering time out for families and friends of addicts, clients of Freedom from Torture, and others on the margins of church and society.
In addition, she has taken on the challenge of helping with the formal gardens around the house, and is inspired by the way groups come together in the Peace Garden and the woodland to manage the estate around the centre. “The whole concept of creation spirituality here is so life – giving,” she says.
And then there is the social side. “There is a fantastic variety of people who come through our doors,” she says, “and when the house is full, it’s brilliant!”
The interplay between the centre’s staff and the resident community gets a special mention. “The staff here give a huge commitment to our work, and working together creates a great living space for us.”
Most of all though, spirituality is the core of the life of the community at Minsteracres, and prayer is at its heart.
“Anyone who has lived in a community like ours will recognise how prayer creates the rhythm of the house. Even those who prefer not to pray with us can feel its influence. It contributes to the sense of peace which people experience here.”