‘Deep Living in Mercy’ NSW Mercy Family Retreat – The Blessing of Mercy
From May 24 – 27, St. Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre, Douglas Park offered us a retreat venue that was spacious, warm and welcoming, in its vast tranquil grounds. We each enjoyed our own bedroom with ensuite, heating and electric blankets! Our every need was met. Our main gathering space was the ‘Heart Room’ and we also enjoyed the other prayer rooms and the nearby church. One Mercy Associate said “Each prayer room was individual in its own way and very welcoming – I loved the low lighting.”
During the retreat, time was spent practicing centering prayer, gathering for common prayer and reflection sessions, sharing and discussion of presentations/reflections, and quietly reading the small book, The Blessing of Mercy – Bible Perspectives and Ecological Challenges, by Veronica Lawson RSM. Each retreatant was gifted with their own copy of this wonderful little book.
“This is not a book that one takes up and reads in one or two sittings and then leaves aside. Rather, it is a rich source of biblical perspectives on mercy interwoven with related biblical themes. It is a book of pondering, for savouring. It will draw its readers deep into the multi-faceted mercy of God. There they will be enabled to ‘gaze even more attentively on mercy’ …..” says Elaine M. Wainwright, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of Auckland.
The more formal gathering and session times were punctuated with periods of quiet, free time when the retreatants could wander in the quiet, secluded grounds and gardens, rest or read and reflect further on their reading and bible references which supplemented the input.
Another Mercy Associate retreatant said “The labyrinth is great and a peaceful walk. It was great to be able to do a couple of drawings. There was peace in my heart.”
On the Saturday morning our group prayer and reflection time was centred on ‘Cordial Love, Something that Warms’, during which we read some of Catherine’s words, reflected on them and sang Catherine’s Suscipe. Following on after morning tea we began our reading and study of the book, ‘The Blessing of Mercy’ – the Introduction. We ended that time with a prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Saturday evening we viewed the new video about Catherine McAuley, titled ‘In God Alone’ – the latest telling of Catherine’s life. It’s a 23 minute docudrama, featuring re-enactments of actual events in the life of Catherine McAuley, from her childhood to her last days. It’s filmed mainly on location in Ireland with Irish actors. The film makes for compelling viewing.
After the film, our short evening prayer time centred on ‘Hospitality and Great Tenderness in All Things.’ We retired for the night after supper together.
On Sunday we attended Mass at 9 am in the parish church, which is immediately next to the retreat centre main building. It was a treat to meet with some of the parishioners after Mass.
The remainder of the retreat was spent reading, reflecting and gathering for prayer in the Heart Room, as well as some bush walking during our free time. Other Mercy Associate retreatants spent their free time silently in prayer or enjoying a rest.
Our retreat group was small, but intimate. We were seven Mercy Associates and Ellen Geraghty from the Mission Integration Unit in Sydney. The Mercy Associate groups represented were from Young, Caringbah (Sydney), Bathurst, and myself from Newcastle.
For various reasons the Mercy Associates groups from Gunnedah, Grafton and Toronto were not able to send any representatives to attend this retreat. However, we are hoping to see many more in attendance for the 2021 NSW Mercy Family retreat.
Ineke Nieuwland (Caringbah Mercy Associate) said this about her experience on the retreat, “The weekend was all I had hoped for. To be together with other associates was not only a pleasure but special to be enriched by the exchange of ideas. Christine was to be commended on the wonderful presentation. Words cannot express really the overall benefit of this special time spent together. I will recommend the experience to the associates I come in contact with.”
It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to be the facilitator for this terrific group of Mercy folk on retreat. I look forward to the next retreat in 2021.
Another Mercy Associate, Sandra Lynch (Bathurst Mercy Associate) commented, “The company, input and meals led to a very fulfilling weekend. It was so inspiring to be sleeping next to Jesus in the ‘Ironbark’ Prayer Room. The venue was wonderful.”
On the Sunday we took some time to respond to some questions about each of our Mercy Associates groups. This time was most valuable in sharing of views and in the discussion that followed. If your Mercy Associates group would like a copy of these questions, please contact me. I would be very grateful for further sharing and discussion on these.
Blessings in God’s Loving Mercy,
NSW Mercy Associates Network Facilitator
Messages to: NSW Mercy Associates
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