Sub Priory of the Immaculate Conception Retreat
Report by Margaret O’Donnell
The annual Campion, Sub Priory retreat for 2020 began on Tuesday February 25th with thirteen attendees, comprising Members in Obedience as well as those preparing to take the Promise of Obedience.
Father Kevin Lenehan was our Spiritual Retreat Leader for the first two days and challenged us to focus on living as Christians in a community, together and alone, in service to others in this secular world. Referencing the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident who was executed in 1945 in Flossenburg Concentration Camp; Father Kevin explored with us these writings which are recognised today for their profound theological insight.
The second day of our retreat, Ash Wednesday, provided us with the opportunity to step outside of our daily work and to focus on the Lenten journey. This luxury was not possible for Fr Kevin as he led our morning prayer, then left the retreat to deliver lectures to his students, returned to celebrate Mass with us then left again to minister to his parishioners. He is a living example of the generosity of spirit sometimes required to bring the love of God to three groups of people in the one day. We really appreciated this extra work from Father Kevin who is relatively new as a chaplain of the Order of Malta.
Another wonderful Chaplain of the Order, and one of our longest serving Chaplains, is Fr Gerald O’Collins, who was the Spiritual Retreat Director for the final three days. Fr Gerald led us in reflections on Matthew’s Gospel, the Daily Awareness Examen, the Eucharist, our Blessed Mother Mary and Prayer. As an experienced retreat director, Father Gerald’s final reflection, ‘Abide with Me”, was one which sent us forth, in his words, “as yachts, not as rowboats”, moved by the Spirit and “abiding in Jesus who gives the only completely true meaning to life”.
In addition to these wonderful reflection sessions, daily Mass, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Benediction, the Rosary and daily prayers of Lauds, Vespers and Compline provided a robust structure to the retreat process.
A Chapter meeting for members of the Sub Priory was an interesting experience which served to increase our knowledge of the Order and resulted in the election of a Regent, David Kissane, and five members of the Sub Priory Council. However, for many the highlight was the Mass and Promise Ceremony, at which Confrere Collin Yap and Confrere Frank Testa made their Promise of Obedience and became Knights in Obedience.
Thank you to Father Gerald, Father Kevin, and in particular David Kissane, the Procurator of the Sub Priory and responsible for most of the organisation. Thank you to all who worked to bring about the success of this retreat and, in so doing, helped bring God’s love to all attendees. This is the mission to which we are called by Baptism. May we all go forth, guided by the Holy Spirit, seeing Christ in everyone we meet and being Christ to all we encounter.