|The St Catherines Trust|
for Traditional Catholic Education
Traditio et Veritas
At the beginning of Passiontide 2006, St Catherines Trust organised its first Family Retreat. The retreat giver was our Chaplain, Fr Andrew Southwell, and the Retreat, held at Ardingly College near Haywards Heath in West Sussex, attracted families, married couples and individuals from all over England, Wales and Scotland. There were about one hundred participants, including fifty-one children, filling to capacity the accommodation we had reserved.
The Retreat started with Sung Traditional Rite Mass on the evening of Friday 31st March and concluded after lunch on Sunday 2nd April, Passion Sunday. Each day included Sung Mass and the Rosary, with Sung Compline each night. On the Saturday evening we had Solemn Vespers and Benediction.
The Retreat was designed to enable parents to attend accompanied by their children, although adults not accompanied by children were also welcome. The generosity of the Trusts sponsors made it possible for children to accompany their parents free of charge, and the flexible accommodation included many multi-occupancy and adjoining rooms. The accommodation, food and other facilities provided by Ardingly College were of an excellent standard, and the practical aspects of the Retreat ran very smoothly, thanks to the very helpful and efficient staff of the College, and our own tireless volunteers.
In order to make it possible for the adults to attend the Retreat conferences, a number of talks and other activities were organised for the children, divided by age into two groups. As well as talks from Fr Southwell, the children heard talks from Mr Alexander McKay of Edinburgh and from Mr Antony Ozimic, Political Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. The latter also gave a talk to the adults. St Catherines Trust volunteers supervised crafts and outdoor activities for the children. One of the highlights of the Retreat was an outdoor praying of the Stations of the Cross, led by Fr Southwell, in which the younger children took turns to display pictures of each Station, which they had themselves prepared.
The theme of the Retreat was Preparation for Easter, and Fr Southwell gave a series of spiritual conferences to the adults and children, focusing on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Fr Hugh Thwaites very generously spent most of the Saturday hearing confessions, and Fr Southwell also heard confessions when he was free.
Mass each day was sung with full ceremonies, well supported by a large number of adult and child altar servers. There was also a small liturgical schola, in cassock and cotta, led by Dr John Tennant, which sang the Mass Propers, and led the Ordinaries, to a very high standard. On the Sunday a group of retreatants sang prepared polyphonic motets at the Offertory and Communion.
It is hoped that this Retreat will become an annual event. Next year's Retreat is planned for 13th-15th April 2007 (Easter Friday to Low Sunday). For more information please contact Dr John Tennant on 07913 481014.