The recent meeting of the Provincial Chapter at the Noddfa Retreat Centre in Penmaenmawr provided a sanctuary for us so that we could map out a course for the mission of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in Britain and Ireland for the next four years.
The word Noddfa means ‘sanctuary’ in the Welsh language. Like most of your localities, our communities here are city centre realities which bring with them 24/7 noise and sharing our lives with fellow city residents who walk the streets anonymously. So, at Noddfa the Province gathered surrounded by the stillness of the countryside so that together we could undertake the task in hand.
I was allotted room 32, a onetime small farm building, which backed onto an enormous field. I noticed straightaway that the field had a rather steep gradient which gave the impression that you couldn’t actually see anything beyond its summit. Anybody venturing to walk the length of that field would be undertaking an act of faith as there was no certainty as to where the journey would lead. It struck me as the chapter opened that this field provided a ‘nature parable’ because it incarnated so much of what underpins the provincial chapter experience. Often chapters are an uphill trek, but also an enormous act of faith, as short, medium, and long term futures come into view and we vision our priorities and take stock of our resources.
We were joined by Sr. Elaine Penrice FSP who is director of the National Vocations Office for the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales who assisted us in channeling our thinking toward some concrete animation.
"The onward journey of the Congregation in these islands is marked by a more intentional international collaboration, a growing ministry relationship with our associated lay teams, and a focus on constructing a workable plan to nurture a culture of vocations amongst us."
The new Provincial Council finds Fr. Peter Dowling, Fr. Melville Wright, Fr. George Dunne, and myself, charged with the responsibly of responding to the Chapter, and in the same act of faith, visioning something beyond the brow of the hill and what remains unseen.
May 23, 2022
Father Darren Maslen, sss
Provincial Consultor and Treasurer