The new year of 2014 brought with it a new retreat team. Joining regulars Fr Jeroen, Sr Therese and Sr Cecilia are part-time community members Pat Alderson, Elisabeth van Dijl, David Ross and parishioner Ann Darlington.

Pat has been involved in her own parish in Stockton on Tees for some years, as well as helping out here at Minsteracres more recently. She and husband Brian have devoted more and more time to us in recent years, turning their hand to whatever’s needed.

David too is very involved in his own parish in Burnley, Lancashire, but has been staying for increasingly longer spells. Like Pat and Brian, he helps out with whatever is required while he is at Minsteracres, but has become drawn to take a bigger role in delivering retreats.

Elisabeth’s home is in Zeist in the Netherlands, so she’s not exactly local, but like the others, she has been coming to Minsteracres over a number of years. She is a pastoral assistant in her own parish of 17 churches and felt ready to take the plunge and join as a part-time member of the community.

Ann and her husband Jim, a governor of the retreat centre, are parishioners and unlike the others live locally. They have been very involved at Minsteracres for years – among other things running the popular walking retreats, and recently offering tours of the house – but Ann decided she wanted to contribute more to the spiritual heart of Minsteracres.

“It’s great that we have the chance to reflect such rich and diverse experience,” says Sr Therese. “With ordained, religious and lay, married and widowed members within the retreat team, it means there’s a good chance people can find someone who really connects with their own experience.”