On the 19th April, I was privileged to take a group of CWC parents on a day retreat to Glendalough. I composed the retreat around the theme of the Road to Emmaus. I thought this appropriate, not just because we would be hiking, but we are also still in the Easter Season and this is a very rich post-resurrection passage.
To be honest, I was overwhelmed with the response to my invitation to retreat. I had really under-estimated the need to hold one and as there were no takers last year, I was assuming that the response this year would be lukewarm.
Even apart from those who attended the retreat, I received so many emails from parents wishing they were free to come along and guaranteeing us of their prayers for us. If this is not an animated Christian Community that we have in Clongowes, then I don’t know what is.
We were blessed with a fabulous day for walking. The days preceding the retreat were wet and, well, more than a little windy! I was getting worried but the Headmaster assured me that things were to improve on Friday, and as in all things, he was right!
I was so glad of the help of Declan O’Keeffe on the parents retreat. He had trained as a mountaineer and he is an historian, so he was a perfect companion for all of us. A little time after we had set off, we stopped to have our packed lunch at the Miner’s village and I showed the parents where we would be walking – it looked high, it looked very high, but Declan encouraged us not to say, ‘I can’t do it’, but rather for us to go as far as we can and then to say, ‘I cannot do any more’. As we had lunch, I read the Feeding of the Four Thousand from Mark’s Gospel. I chose this passage because it is a Eucharistic passage and because of the sentiments that I wanted to bring to mind for the retreatants – ‘I have compassion for the crowd…’, ‘they ate and were filled’.
And so we continued on our way after we ‘were filled’ and along that way, on our own personal roads to Emmaus, there were friendships formed and stories told and laughter shared. Parts of the walk weren’t easy but we got there in the end by helping and looking out for each other.
We returned to have Mass in God’s chapel, which was celebrated for us, by Fr. Moloney S.J. He had left a meeting to come to travel to say mass for us and needed to return there when he had finished. For me, this demonstrates the commitment that he has to parents in Clongowes, but also his deep love for the Eucharist. It was a beautiful mass, simple and intimate, in a chapel that is very conducive to prayer.
Afterward, we had a lovely supper in the Glendalough Hotel. The staff there had been very welcoming and courteous to deal with in the weeks leading up to the retreat and they accommodated our needs very well.
On the Road to Emmaus in Glendalough we had indeed ‘discussed all the things that happened along the way’, we ‘invited Him to stay’ with us and we broke bread together. It was a great day and I sincerely thank you, the parents who took part, for making it a day to remember.