St Beuno's: over forty years of memories
by Frances Moore
Forty one years ago I arrived at St Beuno's to make an 8 day individually guided retreat (IGR) prior to my final Profession as a Religious Sister. I remember ringing (before the days of email!) and asking what I should bring, I was told 'a pair of Wellington boots and warm clothes.'!!
In 1979 the house was very different to what it is today. Under the direction of Fr Gerard W. Hughes the 3 month course had started and there were a few IGRs but it was still a very male orientated house, and indeed the Tertians (Jesuit students) were still around. Frs Michael Ivens and Patrick Purnell were also in the Community and it was Fr Patrick Purnell who was my director on my first directed retreat. Fr Patrick made a deep impression on me and in fact I credit him with teaching me to pray and to 'finding God in all things. Over the next 10 years while he was my Spiritual Director I fell in love with Ignatian Spirituality.
Over the ensuing years I regularly made my annual retreat here at St Beuno's. Some 20 years ago I trained, while still working full time as a hospice nurse manager, as a Spiritual Director at the London Centre of Spirituality and later at Loyola Hall.
Some years ago I started coming to St Beuno's as a Guest Director - a most amazing and humbling experience of sitting with people and supporting them as they explore their relationship with the God who delights in them and says 'welcome'.
On 1st October last year I arrived at St Beuno's to take up the post as a retreat team member. I was far more nervous than I ever expected to be and it took me some time to settle down, but everyone, from Fr Roger and Fr Dermot to office staff, house staff and of course the rest of the team, were gentle, kind and so very supportive for which I shall always be grateful. After a few months I had done most things for the first time and was beginning to feel more confident and at home.
My greatest privilege during this time on the team has been to be part of this house which offers a safe haven for so many people from so many different walks of life, cultures, denominations, laity and clergy alike. The more I do this Ministry the more I notice and see God at work in so many different ways, and I become more aware that it is God's work and what a joy it is to see people recognising the presence and movement of a loving and compassionate God in their lives.
But I also have enjoyed the usual housekeeping jobs - looking after plants, keeping flower vases clean, a little gardening, learning how to use the big cookers in case of snow days. And all this in the beautiful Welsh countryside. How lucky am I?!