Thursday, 25 November 2010

Catholic Parliamentary Interns Retreat

Danny Howard reports on the retreat to Drumalis

On a dreary November morning we left behind the frenzied months of work we have undergone in the capital for our much anticipated (and much needed) retreat. A short flight over the Irish Sea took us to Drumalis; a religious retreat centre overlooking Larne on the County Antrim coast.

The crisp country air, with its splendid view of the pale winter morning was a welcome transformation from the pollution and dreariness we have grown accustomed to in London. The aesthetic beauty of Drumalis was coupled with dedicated service from the wonderful staff. Alongside their faithful dog - Scotty - Sisters of the Cross and Passion; Sr Anna and Sr Margaret Rose, led a small but devoted team who catered to every need and ensured our short stay was a happy one.

The purpose of the retreat was to take a step back from our busy weekly schedules, and to observe and reflect what we have experienced, and how by strengthening and deepening our faith, we might prepare ourselves for the future.

Directing this core spiritual element of the retreat was Father James Hanvey SJ, who we have been fortunate enough to have had guiding us these past few months. The essence of this retreat was one of reflection and development; of how we converse with God and how we might strengthen this bond through the ever deeper use of scripture and prayer.

This enrichment took a number of forms throughout the three days, including the study of scripture, regular conversations with Father James, group meetings and the use of prayer. Furthermore, Sr Anna was kind enough to guide us through the extensive collection of religious art within Drumalis. As evening drew in we would retire to the beautiful oratory to celebrate mass and observe the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We also enjoyed long walks along the beautiful coast line.

As the third day drew to a close, we all observed how enlightening and rejuvenating the retreat had been. Though sad to leave the tranquillity of Drumalis and the company of those who had joined us, we travelled back to London fully refreshed, confident in our Catholic faith and ready to take on the rest of what this year may bring.

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