Our annual community retreat this year took place from 16th to 23rd May here at Glencairn. Our retreat preacher this year was Fr. John Walsh OP, an Irish Dominican friar who is currently serving as Prior at St. Saviour’s Priory in Dublin.
Fr. John introduced his talks as coming ‘from the heart’. Our faith is ‘fleshy’, he commented, reminding us that Dominicans are preachers of the humanity of Christ. Since the Cistercian charism is also distinguished by an emphasis on the humanity of Christ we were on the same wavelength with his earthy approach. As Fr. John progressively drew his material from both his family and community life throughout the week, building on them to deliver his message, our hearts were indeed touched, purified and renewed through listening to his deeply personal experiences and reflections.
We also learnt from him that religious life in community, whether as Dominican brothers living a semi-contemplative, apostolic religious life or as Cistercian nuns living an enclosed contemplative religious life, is in many ways much the same! It was the human, relatable content of these candid talks, linking scripture to life, that moved and encouraged the community, held our attention throughout and, importantly, made us laugh as well as reflect seriously and prayerfully. Fr. John is, furthermore, a happy religious, convinced of the real value of the contribution that both apostolic and contemplative consecrated brothers and sisters are making in our world today.
We were blessed to have a great speaker, good weather and a wonderful volunteer Carolyn Duffy who supported us so well on our retreat by taking care of day to day duties that needed to be done. Her markedly joyful service was an added bonus!
Fr. John Walsh OP with some of our sisters at our Guesthouse in Glencairn, saying farewell.
Our volunteer Carolyn with Sister Michelle and Sister Sarah in the monastery kitchen preparing dinner on Pentecost Sunday, the last day of our retreat.