Retreat and Reflect
Last week I was on a Diocesan retreat/in service in Northern Ireland which was held in a pastoral centre called Drumalis in Larne, run by Sisters of the Cross and Passion. The week included prayer conversation and reflections given by a priest from the Diocese of Dublin on our lifestyle and commitment to priestly life and all the clergy who took part found it both uplifting, positive and challenging. I am aware that it is a real privilege to be able to have the time and opportunity to take time for a retreat each year, an opportunity which is not available to most people due to family and work commitments – it does provide a great opportunity for recharging the batteries both spiritually and mentally. Sadly there are less retreat facilities available these days and the ones that are still going are busy most of the year doing valuable but often unrecognised good work – they need to be more readily recognised as a valuable resource for spiritual support and growth.
This weekend, the beginning of half term, we have a visiting choir from Haarlem in Holland who will sing at the Solemn Mass and later for Choral Evening Prayer at 3pm. The Crypt is busy with bookings this week -it will be the venue for the Wine Society tasting event on Tuesday evening, a Careers Fayre on Friday and a Vintage Fayre on Saturday. There is also a day conference in the Gibberd Room on Saturday organised by ‘Together for the Common Good’.
This week I attended a lengthy meeting to discuss the plans for the forthcoming National Eucharistic Congress which will be held in Liverpool next year from 7th/ 9th September. Up until now conversations and plans were progressing at a steady pace but they have now taken on an added note of urgency as information and programmes will need to be finalised and communicated to all the Dioceses in England and Wales and the many ideas and suggestions have to be turned into a workable and attractive programme of events. Although the planning and organisation is being coordinated by the staff of the Bishops Conference a lot of the fringe events and preparation locally will be left to priests and people within our own Diocese. As you can imagine even though the main events will be taking place at the Liverpool Convention centre on the waterfront our Cathedral will be heavily involved with nearly all the Congress Masses taking place here as well as providing a welcome and opportunities for prayer (along with our other city centre churches) outside of the scheduled events, for the thousands who will be taking part.
At this early stage it is difficult to picture how it will all work but as it draws closer I’m sure we will have a better idea of how it will all fit into place. Apart from the two papal visits of Popes John Paul 2 and Pope Benedict and the National Pastoral Congress it will probably be the biggest event organised by the church in this country for many years.