In March, 2012, Fr Michael Fallon, Margaret Green and Mary Fama presented Spirituality for our Times to the parishioners of the Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand. The retreat was well-received, revealing yet again how people hunger and thirst for a communitarian spirituality.
They shared an experience of coming together as the community of believers, open to the gift of salvation that God offers, a community of sisters and brothers united in Christ. It is an experience of Communion, an experience of God, of Church, and of world.
The retreat was organised by the Hawke’s Bay Pastoral Area Council who saw this as an opportunity to grow in the Christian life as persons and as communities. It offered an opportunity for participants to deepen their overall understanding of the Church and its teaching, of Jesus and the Gospel, of God’s presence in the life of the world.
Through sharing this experience, participants grow in a spirituality of communion. This encourages a stronger sense of relatedness as a church community, as well as in the workplace, in society and in their wider environment.
Group work was enriched with many quotes from scripture, papal encyclicals and from the 2nd Vatican Council: “To those who believe in God’s love, Jesus gives assurance that the way of love lies open to all and that the effort to establish a universal brotherly-sisterly community is not a hopeless one”. Church in the Modern World 38.
Afterwards people said they were delighted to experience more of the Church in action with one person, a new convert, valuing finding out more about the ‘God-given, earth-shattering event that was Vatican II’. Others called the retreat ‘a nudge to act’ and a way to discover new opportunities of service to God in and outside the parish community. Another gained ‘deeper insight to communion of Church’ and yet another said ‘I can now understand what evangelisation is all about’. The importance of collaborative ministry with the priest was appreciated with others saying their understanding of Church had been enriched so that they experienced God and community, it was a wonderful, refreshing retreat engendering a sense of calm and encouragement.
Many ‘behind the scenes’ people worked hard to prepare the retreat and the work priests, pastoral workers, school staff and many parishioners who assisted in the smooth operation of the retreat over two sites is appreciated.