‘The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.’ These words mark the beginning of the document of the Second Vatican Council about the Church in the modern world.

 Looking back over the past year I realise that for many people Minsteracres is a space where joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties are shared. This happens during organised retreats and events, during spontaneous visits and chance encounters.

This year’s theme, seeds of hope, offered a unique opportunity to focus on hopes and joys, but in doing so anxieties and griefs also surfaced. They are all part of our life’s journey. Retreats offer a space to re-connect with this journey and see what is really important. I always feel privileged when people share a glimpse of their life’s journey. It is like entering sacred ground.

In 2018 we will build on this awareness and be guided by the theme of sacred journey. In the light of the gospel we intend to look at the sacredness of our individual journeys, but also reflect on the journey of our faith communities in these times of change.

 But first we will follow Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem and celebrate the birth of Jesus. I hope the sacred stories of Advent and Christmas will be a source of inspiration and light for you and your loved ones.

I end by thanking you for your prayers and generosity in supporting the life and ministry of Minsteracres and hope you will continue to remember us in 2018. On behalf of all at Minsteracres I wish you a joyful Christmas with many blessings for the New Year.