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What’s new

Hope features in quite a lot of this edition. Fr Jeroen reflects on the hope of Easter; the retreat team unveils its 'seeds of hope' retreat; the hope our outreach team provides for hundreds of visitors; our aspiration to provide a sustainable future and our hope for more contributions towards our refurbishment programme! Find all this and more below.

Cross of hope

As I am writing I find myself at the threshold of the season of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Easter. With our retreat theme ‘seeds of hope’ in mind I am reminded of the Cross of Hope that was erected in the grounds of Minsteracres in 2009. Raed Fr jeroen's reflections here.

20 not out!

They say an army marches on its stomach and it’s a bit like that at Minsteracres. Pretty much everyone who comes to the house will have contact with the kitchen, so it’s no surprise that one of our best known people hails from the kitchen. Read about Margaret's anniversary here.


A busy year

For the outreach team, 2016 was a very successful year. They welcomed 380 people from 24 different groups to one-day or longer stays, time that none of the participants would otherwise have been able to access. Click here for more about the team's work.

A sustainable future

One of Minsteracres’ three key aims is conservation of the environment, both our own and the earth’s. It may sound a bit grand to put it that way but a quick look at our different departments shows how embedded that aspiration is here. Read about what we're doing to meet our aims.

Seeds of hope

 Retreat team member Elisabeth van Dijl reflects on the theme for 2017.
Towards the end of last year we decided on “seeds of hope” as our new theme. This caused me to start focusing on what hope means for me personally and how it has worked in my (faith) life.

News in brief

Retreat house at 50

2017 marks 50 years since the former stables building opened its door to retreatants. We plan to celebrate the anniversary later in the year and bring together some of those who had a hand in the original conversion in the 1960s. We would love to hear from people with their photographs and memories of the place.  Keep an eye out for more details of the celebrations in the summer newsletter.

New bus

Sr Therese, former community member at Minsteracres and now provincial of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, has agreed that the order make us a gift of a minibus they no longer need. It arrived to great excitement shortly after Christmas and we are looking at how best to deploy it for the benefit of staff, community and visitors. We are delighted to have heard already from a number of volunteer drivers.

our growing band of helpers

As we grow, our need for volunteers grows with us. If you know of anyone who might be interested in joining our growing band, please put them in touch with us. Currently our most pressing need is for dining room volunteers, either to help with the odd meal or to come for a few days at a time as some of our more far-flung helpers do.

Website updated

Our website has undergone its annual update. If you’re interested to know more about what we do there is lots of information to be had, including a comprehensive news section and videos introducing Minsteracres, coming on retreats and the work of the conservation team.

Fundraising update 

There has been a real focus on fundraising in the past year, with substantial sums being raised from among others the Big Lottery, the Congregation of the Passionists and the Dutch Solidarity Fund (another Passionist group).

We are waiting to hear about the outcomes of several more applications ranging from £2k up to £68k for a range of activities and uses from supporting the outreach programme to the retreat house refurbishment.

Thanks in large part to individual donations, work is well underway to complete the refurbishment of the upstairs bedrooms, replacing wardrobes with simpler hanging spaces, modernising the decor and replacing 31 mattresses. Installing new LED light bulbs is one example of a simple step which not only improves the lighting in rooms, but uses far less electricity and therefore impact on the environment.

All in all, we have raised around £150k so far on the retreat house lift, bathrooms and bedrooms. A further £6,000 is all that is needed to finish the first floor refurbishment.


The practice of faith in a dismissive world – Patrick Woodhouse 
A recent survey found that the number of people who say they have no religion now significantly outweighs the Christian population. This study day will look at some of the reasons behind this and explore how a deeper practice of faith may be discovered.
Saturday 18 March, 10am – 4pm, with lunch provided
Quiet days of reflection during Lent
An opportunity to step aside, listen to God in scripture and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.
Wednesday 15 March – Sr. Rosarie Spence RSM
Wednesday 22 March – Sr. Anne McCarthy RSCJ
Wednesday 29 March – Kathryn Turner
Wednesday 5 April – Sr. Sheila McNamara RSCJ
All from 10am – 4pm, with a light lunch provided.

 Holy Week retreat - Minsteracres team
Join the community on their journey towards Easter, with time for reflection and the opportunity to take part in the ceremonies of Holy Week.
Thursday 13 (6.30pm) – Sunday 16 April (2pm)
Walking retreat - Minsteracres team
A walk of seven to ten miles. (See 19 November 2016 entry for more details).
Saturday 29 April, 10am - 5pm
Open house
Have you ever wanted to have a look around our house and grounds? Now’s your chance! With exhibitions, tours, moments of reflection, tea, coffee and good home cooking.
Monday 1 May, 11am - 4pm
Day of prayer -  Rosarie Spence RSM
This day enables you to experience different ways of praying in a beautiful setting and gives you time for quiet personal prayer. Lunch, tea and coffee are provided.
Wednesday 3 May, 10am – 4pm                                                       
Parish retreat weekend – Minsteracres team
Groups and individuals are invited to join this ‘seeds of hope’ themed weekend.
Friday 12 (7pm) – Sunday 14 May (2pm)

Finding our way into the future : Thomas Berry and the Great Work - Clíodhna Mulhern and Fergus Reilly
As we journey through unimaginable upheaval, the work of Thomas Berry, Passionist priest and cultural historian, inspires us with wonder and hope, giving us a new radical understanding of what it is to be human in relationship with all of life as an earth community.
Saturday 20 May, 10am – 4pm, with lunch provided

Embodied contemplative – Terry Doyle
This retreat will explore how the practice of meditation can be encountered through the language of the body using breathing exercises, gentle stretching and slow Tai Chi movements along with seated meditation periods.
Friday 26 (7pm) – Sunday 28 May (2pm)
Icon painting workshop - Maureen Rimmer
This workshop is open to beginners as well as to those with some experience who wish to paint an icon as an expression of personal prayer. During this week we will explore the spirituality and symbolism contained within icons.
Monday 29 May (11am) – Friday 2 June (2pm)

Walking retreat - Minsteracres team
A walk of seven to ten miles. (See 19 November 2016 entry for more details).
Wednesday 31 May, 10am - 5pm
Pentecost retreat

A weekend of praise, prayer and reflection to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Friday 2 (7pm) – Sunday 4 June (2pm)

Visit our website for our full programme of retreats.
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Minsteracres Retreat Centre · Nr Consett · Co. Durham, DH8 9RT · United Kingdom