Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year Retreat

The New Year Retreat is going really well. We have nearly two hundred people sleeping in the school with many more coming during the day but sleeping at home or at friends' houses. The talks have been great: simple, practical and challenging. So far we've looked at the Eucharist, Confession, and prayer. Last night we had a reconciliation service with fourteen priests hearing Confessions. It began at 8.00pm and ended after 10!
This afternoon we have the Vocations Forum. We will show the 'Fishers of Men' video and follow it up with a discussion on how to discern one's vocation. It's not exclusively for people thinking about the diocesan priesthood: we have lots of male and female religious here so we couldn't ignore them! The plan is rather to simply create a space where vocations in general and the signs associated with them may be discussed.
With all this attention paid to our souls it's important to mention that a large part of the success of this year's retreat is due to the attention that is also being paid to our bodies. Whether it's attempting to unblock loos at midnight or sorting out heating systems so no one freezes to death on a school floor there's always been a smiling parishioner ready to help.
I couldn't finish this post without mentioning the food - because everyone else is talking about it endlessly. The basic theme: "It's never been so good"! Youth 2000 has been around since 1990 and today someone commented: "We've never had a cooked breakfast before". Yesterday someone said, "There's never been a choice of menu before". And the best comment of all, "This year instead of thinking, 'Oh, it's lunch time', I'm saying 'Oh great - it's lunch!". So thanks to everyone whose involved with looking after our bodies - especially all the many people and families helping with the catering. Here's a photo of just some of them.


Fr Julian Green said...

What a tremendous retreat it has been, and that is in no small part because of Fr Stephen's hard work and generosity. Many thanks Father for your commitment to hosting this New Year retreat each year at Holy Ghost. Let us pray that great graces will flow from it. It is true - the food at the Balham retreat is the best Y2K food anywhere. Thanks to the hard work of the ladies led by Maxine.

Fr Stephen said...

Thanks for your kind comments Fr Julian, and thanks for your help over the weekend. It really was a grace-filled weekend.