Parish Day of Reflection at Buckfast with extended Residential Retreat at Southgate 23rd – 25th February 2015; ‘Living the Joy of the Gospel’

‘Living the Joy of the Gospel’
Fourteen of us joined Fr. Philip at Buckfast Abbey for a short retreat between Monday 23 and Wednesday 25 February. On Tuesday our numbers were increased by the presence of 25 additional parishioners who joined us for a day of recollection. Our few days at Buckfast were centred on praying the Divine Office and reflecting on Pope Francis` recent Apostolic letter `Evangelii Gaudium’ – The Joy of the Gospel.

Fr. Philip led us gently through the document, guiding our thoughts, reflections and discussions with a variety of beautifully prepared and illustrated aids. Overall our few days away mirrored the life of the monastery – community prayer, Celebration of the Eucharist, quiet reflection, and time for personal renewal. All very appropriate for Lent! And all accomplished within the tranquil ethos of a spiritual and holy place, a place which invites and inspires. On Tuesday, when our numbers increased, our focus was on Bishop Mark`s outline of his vision for the Diocese, and all were touched by the infectious enthusiasm which ran through all that he put before us. Bishop Mark is full of passion and hope and he invites us to join him in announcing the good news of the Gospel to a waiting and wanting world, so that people may be renewed in faith, in love and in joy by their encounter with Jesus. He prays that all may be led to profess  `It is the Lord `with that same enthusiasm which filled the hearts of the apostles.

It was a wonderful, and profitable, few days – full of fun, laughter, joy, prayer, love and deep sharing of faith. These were days of grace for those of us privileged to be there.

Sincere thanks to Fr Philip and Jane for organizing everything so thoughtfully and well. All that  preparatory behind the scenes work ensured a successful retreat for the rest of us. All those beautifully prepared and illustrated booklets and prayer prompts, all those extra bits and pieces which lifted the spirits. Many thanks. It is all appreciated by the participants.

All of us, I believe, came away on Wednesday afternoon re-inspired by our short retreat and hopefully, touched anew by the sheer joy of the gospel.

–James & Clare Madden