Wulstan's in High Wycombe is a small parish of c. 150 familes (about
320 people in all) with two Sunday Masses. We are one of five Catholic
churches in High Wycombe, of which our priest serves two.
We have so
far run one Landings course (with another planned for shortly).
It was a great success for all concerned. The welcomers found it
a very joyful and spiritual experience and the three returners too,
all of whom are now regular attenders at Mass. One has become a
Reader and is taking a particularly lively part in parish events.
ended with a day retreat at a local convent where we were able to
arrange for a vigil Mass in the afternoon. Throughout the course
we kept closely to the specified structure for each session but
in the retreat we decided not to have another Landings session but
to use a rather different approach.
The theme of
the retreat was announced beforehand as "Forgiveness"
and all participants were asked to bring a short text which is especially
dear to them and which, however loosely, is related to forgiveness.
After short prayer and a tea, coffee and biscuits welcome, the first
hour of the morning was devoted to each participant reading that
text and saying why it was special to them, with us all then responding
in affirmation and enjoyment. The texts chosen were very varied
- an extract from The Hound of Heaven, one from Julian of Norwich,
a couple from Scripture, others from more secular sources. (On Sunday
after the retreat there was a flurry of photocopying to meet the
requests for copies of some of the texts !)
half of the morning - after a coffee break - was devoted to a prayer
workshop. After a short introduction, we each voiced the problems
we have with prayer (all had been asked to think about these in
the week prior to the retreat) and we found so much common ground
!! We discussed some general questions about prayer e.g. do we need
a special time and place to pray; do we need to learn to pray; should
we try to measure progress in prayer etc. etc..
the Angelus and briefly talking about methods of prayer, we each
spent a half hour on one of three alternative ways of using writing
as prayer - write a letter to Jesus expressing what is in your heart;
write a dialogue between yourself and Jesus trying to listen for
His voice as you write; discover a letter from God and set down
what He would say if He wrote you a letter of comfort. The end result
for each was kept private but we finished by sharing how the experience
had been for us. Everyone was enthusiastic and several said it had
opened up a new and exciting way of praying.
Lunch was a
pot luck arrangement - and as usual with such things there was an
excess of nice things to eat. By now our priest had joined us and
after lunch we devoted an hour to a question and answer session
with our priest in the chair. Participants had been asked to supply
questions about anything to do with the Faith/Church in advance
or to raise them on the day. We did not have many and none that
were very significant; this was probably the least valuable part
of the retreat and we will probably not include it next time.
Mass was scheduled
for 4pm and before that there was the opportunity for Confession
for those who wished. All our returners took advantage of the opportunity.
There was time too for a quiet saunter in the fresh air or simply
At the Mass
the returners had been invited to read the lessons and two accepted.
All of us composed an individual prayer which we voiced at the Bidding
Prayers. At the conclusion of Mass, Celtic crucifixes were blessed
and then presented to each of the returners, hopefully to be with
them as a reminder for the rest of their lives.
we gathered again in our retreat room and had a small wine and cheese
party to celebrate our returners and our little "family".
We very much felt that we wanted to make the end of the retreat
and of Landings a joyful celebration. Each returner got a little
book of short daily readings to take home with them.
began at 10 and ended just before 6pm. Everyone seemed to find that
timing just about right. Holding it away from the parish at the
convent was an important factor in its success as there were few
distractions and time was available to simply reflect. (A spin off
has been a request that we organise a similar retreat day for the
wider parish - something we hope to do for Lent next year).