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HOW A HOTEL BECAME A MONASTERY!

2016-05-24 08:38

HOW A HOTEL BECAME A MONASTERY!

Earlier this month a hotel venue in West Sussex played host to what has been described as, “one of the most important and seminal events for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom”. The comment comes from Fr Victor Vella, Parish Priest of Holy Innocents' parish, Orpington in Southwark diocese and organizer of the ‘Life in the Spirit Retreat for a New Pentecost’.

Co-sponsored by Redemptorist Publications and Hayes & Finch, The Copthorne Hotel staged a week long pre-Pentecost priests’ retreat and welcomed the inspirational Fr Raniero Cantalamessa (Preacher of the Papal Household) as its lead speaker. With nearly a hundred priests in attendance the event was unprecedented in both its size and importance.

Reflecting on the event, delegates have described it as, ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘sure to bear fruit in the life of the Church in this country’. A wonderful example of what can happen when the talents of the laity are harnessed, the event was organised and served by a team of volunteers who are members of the parish evangelisation cells in Fr Victor's parish. 

One attending priest said of the event that for those few days "the hotel became a monastery", with the hotel banqueting hall turned into a chapel and a conference suite into a sacred space for the talks. True to the ethos behind the event, priests came from a wide range of backgrounds - young and old, from established circles and from the New Movements. The event was a truly diverse one, with a number of African missionaries in attendance, alongside diocesan priests from Portsmouth, Southwark, Westminster and Scotland. Although the aim of the event was to bring the priests into a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit, it was not an event organised by the Charismatic Renewal but held under the auspices of the Southwark diocese, where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were put at the service of the wider Church. The retreat was opened by Bishop Richard Moth and the closing Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith.

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