Monday, November 19, 2007

To Cumbria... St Cuthbert's Retreat Centre at Wigton, near Carlisle. This is an extraordinary place!

Members of the Cor et Lumen Christi movement have settled here, and the plan is to restore this wonderful old building - once a convent and orphanage - into a centre where families and groups will come to celebrate and learn about their Faith, pray, evangelise, and be evangelised...

And they will do it, too. There is so much faith and devotion here. The project is going to be a huge challenge because although solidly and beautifully built, the building needs a good deal of basic repair and restoration work, as it was left abandoned for over a decade after the last nuns left...but the team here is young, dedicated, joyful, hard-working and prayerful. Already, one good-sized room has been magnificently restored, with some lovely original features to enjoy - magnificent crucifix in an alcove, beautiful warm-coloured red brickwork - and a good working kitchen alongside. We gathered here for a "Family day with God", hordes of cheerful children, a talk from me about (yes, you've got it...) "Traditional Feasts and Seasons", a lovely lunch with hot sausages, and an atmosphere of prayer and goodwill. The music to my taste (Oh please, can't we sing some decent hymns?) but everything else was simply perfect: devotion, a young priest with an attentive congregation at Mass, friendship, a sense of relief as people felt they could talk about things too often covered by grim silence such as the challenge of raising a family with good values in the face of a sordid modern culture, the tragic abandonment of the Faith in too many nominally Catholic schools...

I was given wonderful hospitality, had some great conversations, felt hugely encouraged and cheered, and learned a lot. I explored the building - there is an old chapel just waiting to be restored ("But have you seen the dreadful 1960s addition?" I was asked "That'll have to go - and we found the original stained-glasss in an outbuilding and hope to put it all back...") and there is a wealth of local history here which simply must be recorded.


Anonymous said...

When confronted with that sort of music, I have had good results from prayers for the intercession of St. Catherine of Genoa. :)

What a blessing that they found the stained glass!

Best wishes,

I love to read about new communities that you visit--what a rich tapestry of faith England has!

Michael Clifton said...

Just visited your site for the first time and enjoyed it particularly this item on the Cumbria group which I have never heard of. Perhaps you could list the various possibilities of such centres as you have visited for the benefit of all new readers. Have you tried my own blog known as Fr. Mildews Blog ?