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I am the vine, you are the branches:

a three-day Retreat with Parish Collaborators

Sharing the experience of our eight day retreat in the beautiful wine growing area of the Clare Valley, about 139 km out of Adelaide with three of our parish collaborators, they expressed their own longing for even just three days retreat. Mary, Leanne and Rebecca, actively involved as lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist and Baptism Team, member were voicing their desire for some quiet time to draw closer to the Lord.

Having made enquires for accommodation at the Jesuit Fathers Guest House at the Retreat Centre in Sevenhill, the four of us came together to decide on a date and time of the year to meet. Autumn seemed ideal and we met twice more to plan the days together to make sure that our sessions together would respond to their needs.

Each day was dedicated to one of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit. The overall theme was Jesus as the Vine and we the branches, John 15:1-17. We had also agreed to experience different modes of prayer: Lectio, Meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, Contemplative Imaginative Prayer and the use of religious painting for Scripture texts that we would use during the retreat.

Every day, after lunch, we visited a heritage place such as the cottage where St Mary MacKillop stayed when she was excommunicated, the beautiful St Aloysius church which is one of the first churches built in the area, and the Crypt where the early Jesuits were buried, and the nearby heritage town. In the evening after dinner and before Night Prayer, we would spend an hour where we could clarify or ask questions on issues of concern or further explore something that had emerged in the group sharing during the day sessions. An example, the movements of the good and bad spirit; the experience of fear that can at times cripple us.

On the last night, we were able to celebrate the Eucharist and prayed the Rosary as our night prayer. Before leaving on the Saturday morning, at the conclusion of our prayer, each person received a bookmark with the words: “I have chosen you and commissioned you to go and bear fruit.”

These were days of blessing for us. Renewed in faith, hope and love; deepened in our relationship with the Lord and one another; and with our desire to share something of our experience with fellow journeyers.

Sr Rita Ruzzene SJBP

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