At the end of February, when the snow was still on the ground, we welcomed our Friends of Minsteracres to this year’s Themed Retreat with the title “The God who Speaks”.

You might wonder how we choose each year’s theme. This time we linked our theme to the year of rediscovery of the Holy Scriptures, sponsored by Catholic Bishops Conference in conjunction with the Bible Society.

The groundwork for making a plan and developing the retreat content started in January. This year we had two welcome new editions to our team: Fr. Jenish and Michael O’Halloran.  They joined the old hands: Fr Jeroen, Deacon David, Ann, Julia and Elisabeth.

A lot of time and effort went into deciding what to say and do. We always like our retreats to address mind, heart and body and so we try to include a varied range of activities and material.

The first ones to find out what we had come up with were our Friends. We started off in the chapel in a horseshoe facing a lovely poster including the words “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”.  We turned our minds and hearts to listening to God in a gentle meditation.

The next morning David provided a lively PowerPoint on the how’s, when’s and why’s of Scripture. We practised some of the hows in the next session and participants found a private space to exercise their spiritual hearing. In the early afternoon there were workshops focused on art, writing or walking to listen to the God who speaks in creation. Later the difficulties about God speaking had centre stage. And then there was an opportunity for confession or private or group sharing.

The next morning in our final session we pulled together what we had learned during the weekend and discussed what insights and resolutions we were going home with. We gifted each other with a Minsteracres bookmark containing a personal wish.

The retreat ended where it began: in the chapel. During the final mass we expressed our gratitude to one another and to God for everything we receive. After a wonderful lunch we parted ways. But not for long we hope!

By Elisabeth van Dijl