Divine Retreat Centre
AT FIRST glance faint-hearted Catholics, even the recalcitrant amongst might look up the Divine Retreat Centre in Somersby NSW, not too far from the Central Coast’s beach haven but inland into the grace and glory of the woodlands. Sixty-five rolling acres in the quiet of the countryside provide a serene setting for the Retreat Centre and this serenity is quickly felt all around you.
I am by no means a Catholic fundamentalist or a breast-beating devout follower of the religion. I am however your everyday regular church-going believer in the Catholic religion. I am a cynic when it comes to Catholic circuses, Bible bashing or breast beating.
The Goan Association of New South Wales was kind enough to invite its membership to the Divine Retreat Centre for a service honoring it current membership and remembering past members. Some 35 souls, some of them very experienced participants at the DVC, a few newcomers and a few who had been there before.
As I am a Trustee of the association, I may appear a bit biased … I try not to be.
In Australia, at least, we have the freedom to be what we want to be. Similarly, with Catholicism we have the freedom to take what we want from the various services on offer. Yes, there was a hint of the American Bible bashing at huge tented ministries, such Praise Be God, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, closing of eyes in meditation … but it was not overwhelming to cause anyone any concern. There will always be skeptics, anyway.
THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST
Here are some of the folks we remembered and prayed for at the Mass:
Anthony Azavedo, Joe Gonsalves, George and Irene D’Souza, Ancet Fernandes (who passed away recently), Kate D’Souza, Rita Gonsalves, George and Sheila Pereira, Maud Soames, Hilda Thomas, Dr Joseph Vaz, Millie Mendonca, Dr Pat D’Souza, Tony Coutinho, John Mascarenhas, George Peres da Costa, Veronic D’Cruz, Freddie Mascarenhas, Rufina Fernandes, Bridget Rose Fernandes, Franco Pereira, Richard Gonsalves, Ben Almeida, Mary Pereira, Joe Fernandes, George and Cynthia Fernandes, Lucy Machado, Bulena Pereira, Tony Pereira, Baptist D’Sa, Keith Gomes, David Soares, Lourecinio Noronha, Mrs Beatrice Nazareth, Mr Athaide and Joan Athaide, Mrs D'Souza.
There used to be a book with names of all the members who had passed on. Unfortunately, this book is missing. If you would like to include a name or two, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think the GOA is to be congratulated for this effort.
My own personal take came from Fr Roni George, a happy-go-Catholic in his homily: Don’t think that that escape from a potentially serious car accident, or lucky escape from a serious disease, or some other catastrophe you have avoided … just simply happens. If you connect with God, you will come to learn pretty quickly how he helps in so many ways. As I said, to a non-believer this might be garbage but to a Catholic who can connect, it is all about believing. You don’t have to be holy or saintly to believe. Just do it, if you want to.
|The Divine Mercy Chaplet|
|Fr Roni George with some of the Sydney folks|
|Another view of the Divine Mercy Chalet|
|Some of the facilities on site for three-day retreats|