I am just back from the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat, which as usual was a tremendous occasion. I blogged about last year's event here; here are a few photos and quick impressions. See more photos in this Flickr set.
As Easter moves to and fro, and we have to keep the Retreat in the school holiday (the holiday of the school which provides the venue, that is!) the retreat dates have been alternating between the weekend of Low Sunday and the weekend of Passion Sunday. This year it was a Lent retreat again, and at the end of Saturday the crucifix on the altar was veiled, and the Gloria Patri fell silent.
The retreat giver was Fr Andrew Southwell, who was assisted by Fr Thomas Crean OP. Fr Crean celebrated Low Mass before breakfast on Saturday and Sunday in the traditional Dominican Rite. For most people this is a very rare chance to see this fascinating ancient rite, which represents an important thread in the liturgical tradition of the Latin Church. We also has a traditional missa cantata each day celebrated by Fr Southwell. In addition to these we had Vespers and Benediction on the Saturday, and Compline on Friday and Saturday. I am going to do a separate post about the singing at the Retreat, which marked an important new departure for us.
Fr Southwell gave a series of talks to the adults based on the different characters who played a role in the Passion of Our Lord, and he and Fr Crean also gave talks to the children. The children, divided into 'older' and 'younger' groups, enjoyed various activities, including football for the older children and, on Sunday, an Easter Egg hunt for the younger ones.
On Saturday, in accordance with our custom at these Retreats, we had Stations of the Cross outside, with pictures of the stations produced by the children. After this there was a chance to relax and talk over a cup of tea, while Southwell Books provided a bookstall. This was followed by Vespers and Benediction, and after dinner a very interesting talk about the importance of the family in upholding civilisation by Mr Phillip Moran of Tradition, Family, Property.
Apart from the obvious spiritual benefits of a Lenten retreat, the St Catherine's Truth Family Retreat is a chance for families, both parents and children, to meet each other and gain mutual support. Catholic parents are usually isolated at work, and their children are usually isolated in their schools; it is of prime importance for the Traditional Catholic movement to provide more than simply tea and biscuits after Sunday Mass to build up a sense of community nation-wide, the chance to share experiences and resources, and above all the moral support of knowing that other families are fighting the same fight.
This support is very much appreciated by the families who attended the retreat. It can't be provided in an extensive way at a local level, which is why we need national events and national organisations, like the St Catherine's Trust and the Latin Mass Society, to organise them. It is often said that there is 'much to do': in this important respect we are actually doing it!
Please spread the word about the Family Retreat, and support it, above all by attending. The prices are heavily discounted for families, so the larger Traditional families can still attend: children under 16 come for free. Nevertheless people of all stages of life are welcome. Email the St Catherine's Trust to join the mailing list.