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GLENDALOUGH 2010 - A Pilgrim Journey

“Is chugatsa suas, a Dhia, a chuirim siúl mo chos,
Glac mo lámh, labhairt mo bhéil agus mianta mo chroí,
Agus go néirí siad leat féin, leis an Mac agus leis an Spíorad Naomh. Amen”

Our first Lenten CEIST Retreat took place From Sunday March 28th – Tuesday March 30th in the Tearmann Spirituality Centre in Glendalough.

The Retreat was led by Fr. Michael Rodgers assisted by Sr Breda Ahearne C.P. and was a very special introduction to Holy Week for all those who took part.

 

The group, which consisted of participants from all four Provinces, met on Sunday evening and gathered outside the Tearmann Centre in glorious spring sunshine!

All were welcomed by Ned Prendergast on behalf of CEIST and. each member of the group was given a journal in which to record their spiritual journey as pilgrims over the course of their two days in Glendalough. Each was also given a pilgrim staff, both to assist with the journeying, and to mark the fact that we were setting off together on Pilgrimage.

Fr. Michael Rodgers then welcomed us all to the Tearmann Centre, reminding us of the ancient tradition of Pilgrimage to this holy place. He invited us to join together on a journey into our inner being; a journey which would include times of solitude, of finding ourselves, but also times of sharing in community.

The opening of our retreat was followed by an evening meal during which the group members introduced themselves to each other and very quickly became a comfortable community, finding they were, indeed, already linked to each other through their connections with CEIST.

Monday began with morning prayer and meditation led by Fr. Michael and Sr. Breda. The focus of the prayer was the Gospel reading of the day – the anointing at Bethany - and we were invited to participate in an anointing ritual during which we blessed each other in the name of the Trinity.

The weather had taken a turn for the worse but, nonetheless, our company of Pilgrims, undeterred by the heavy rain and led by Fr. Michael, set out to walk together in this sacred place, beginning by visiting the Pilgrim Cross on the road leading intoGlendalough, following in the footsteps of so many generations of Pilgrims throughout the ages.

We then walked the path of the Glendalough Labyrinth with its twists and turns as we each reflected on the paths of our own lives.

This prayerful experience was followed by a walk, past the Monastic city along the Green Road to the Upper Lake, following the route of the Stations of the Cross.

  

 

While we walked as a group this was a time of quiet as we were each drawn into the beauty and wonder of this valley; of the stones and trees we met along the way, of the spirit of this sacred place where so many have walked and lived in solitude and prayer.

During the afternoon there was time for quiet personal reflection followed by an extended celebration of the Eucharist which explored images of the Cosmic Christ and of fire burning in our hearts, and which, through the simplicity of its celebration, drew us into the presence of Christ as He celebrated His Last Supper with his Apostles.

The day ended with another very pleasant meal as community.

 

On our final morning we awoke to find this valley of Glendalough covered in snow!

We met for prayer and meditation and this introduction to the day was followed by another walk – once again braving the elements, this time those of wind and snow!

Our walk took us around the Monastic City, into the Cathedral of Kevin, to Kevin’s Cross, past the Round Tower and across the fields to the Teampall na mBan.

It took us through the centuries of prayer that have made this a Sacred Place, connecting us with countless Pilgrim journeys and lives of faith.

 

Our journey ended with reflection time during which each pilgrim wrote a letter to themselves from this place and this space. These letters will be sent to each participant in a month’s time.

Our retreat concluded with a visit to The Hermitage where we were welcomed by Sr. Kathleen; led in a Circle Dance by Sr. Breda, and prayed together once again before sharing a light lunch before our departure.

This wonderful opportunity to take “time out” after a busy term was enjoyed by all. It was a time of pilgrimage, of journeying from solitude to community.

While each participant had opportunity for “soul time” we also grew, not just as the group of those participating, but as a CEIST community, rooted in faith and entrusted with the mission of carrying the Gospel message back to our own school communities.

During those two days at the beginning of Holy Week we were all inspired by the message of the Paschal mystery; and encouraged by the knowledge that in this current difficult time there is the promise of Resurrection; of a new Springtime for our Church, and of great hope for the future of our CEIST schools.