The theme was ‘Blessed are the Merciful’, and the topic of mercy was addressed in many different ways.
Brian Lacey (Head of RE and Spirituality Services, CSO) and Sue Lacey (Assistant Principal, St Paul’s Rutherford) were the facilitators, and went to great lengths to ensure we increased our understanding and experience of mercy. We looked at verses of Scripture that reflected God’s mercy. We each received a copy of Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son, and reflected on its meaning. We heard from Mark Spencer (Education Officer, Primary RE & Spirituality, CSO) on Catholic Social Teaching, and had a very creative task to demonstrate ‘mercy’ using music, art, kinaesthetic actions, visual aids, sculpture and words.
Fr Richard Shortall sj, Missionary of Mercy, was with us for the whole weekend. He led us in morning and night prayer, and was available for individual conversations with all the participants.
On Saturday night, after a simple meal of rice, we went out to different suburbs and visited families who have come to Newcastle as refugees. The participants had collected food, toys, and other practical items to give as gifts when we visited. Each family shared its story with the group, and we were impressed at how welcoming, trusting and resilient the families were. As Brian said, “These families have done it tough, and know what mercy looks like.”
Sunday’s session looked at more practical ways we can continue to share God’s mercy, and each of us made a commitment to be a person of compassion, justice, respect, hospitality, service or courage.
The retreat concluded with the Ecumenical Way of the Cross. Retreat participants led two stations, sang and carried the WYD cross throughout the stations.
It was a wonderful experience leading into Easter, and all the participants came away aiming to ‘be’ people of mercy, ‘grow’ in mercy, and ‘show’ God’s mercy to the world.