As the UK went into lockdown, although retreat centres had to close their doors to visitors, they began to offer many new initiatives giving hope and support where it was most needed.
Serving the community
At Marygate House on Holy Island, the wardens worked with a local support group and the parish council to run a community shop offering much-needed supplies to the community who were cut off by the tides and restrictions on travel.
The Royal Foundation of St Katharine in East London offered their premises for non-Covid patients who needed care after leaving hospital. They also converted their Yurt Café into a grocery store and worked with local volunteers to distribute nearly 150 food parcels each week for those in need.
The Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage were busy during lockdown turning unused material bought for the sisters’ habits into medical scrubs for nearby hospitals and GP surgeries, as well as preparing nutritious meals for those in need.
Offering online retreats
Launde Abbey in Leicestershire had planned to hold an Easter Retreat for visitors but instead made the resources available online – attracting 1000 views on one of the days.
A number of centres offered online retreats during the height of the pandemic. These included the Loreto Centre, the Jesuits in Britain, the House of Prayer in East Molesey and Holland House.
Many centres also offered the opportunity to share in their community worship online, including Ampleforth Abbey, Buckfast Abbey, the Community of the Resurrection, Chemin Neuf Community, Edenham Regional House, the Iona Community and Minsteracres Retreat Centre.
Wydale Hall and Retreat House Pleshey offered online prayers, Sheldon continues to offer an online hub for retreat house wardens.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which retreat centres have adapted their work to offer local and national support to so many in these challenging times.