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REFLECTIONS ON RETREATS AT ST BEUNO'S

 

RoseI approached my retreat at St Buenos with mixed emotions.
How would I cope with the silence?
What would the food be like?
What about the other people.
From the minute I stepped inside the magnificent building nestling amidst the Welsh hills all these concerns disappeared. I had stepped into another world. The peace was tangible. I could feel the prayers of generations taking me over.
It was like all my worries were lifted from me and that I was floating on a blanket of absolute peace.
Sitting in one of the prayer rooms I could hear the blackbirds singing and the trees were blowing in the wind. Life stood still I was at one with God, nature and myself.
The countryside around is wonderful the walks across valleys and up hills create an unfathomable spiritual dimension.
Standing outside in the cold February night air I took in the hundreds of bright stars lighting up the night sky.
I was blessed with my guide Sr Mary Murphy She is intuitive sensitive and a beautiful caring woman. She listened to me rambling on and gently issuing words of encouragement and hope. By day two I had forgotten why I had thought I had any worries in life. Everything was put in perspective.
We celebrated beautiful liturgies with great singing.
How to describe my retreat: It is a journey to another place, a wonderful life changing place. The silence is enriching,the other people came from across the UK men and women age range from earlier 20 to 70’s but we all gelled united in the knowledge that each of us had our own story to share with the Lord. As for the food I have no idea, I was so enthralled by the atmosphere food did was not a consideration. Another concern that I had was the travel but in fact it is a very easy place to get to being only 5 minutes from the A55 which links up to the major motorways.
I am so grateful to all the people at St Beuno's in particular Mary but everybody I met contributed to a wonderful week-end. A week-end that has left me spiritually and physically refreshed and with a peace that has remained with me. An unforgettable experience.
Thank you all so much.

Rose M. 2014


 Pilgrims in Beuno's CavePilgrim to a Sacred Place

I recently visited St Beuno's to experience the Pilgrims to Sacred places retreat. I was attracted to this particular retreat because of the walking aspect, other than that I had little idea what to expect.

I think it was a good choice for me as I had not been on a retreat before. As we were not in silence all of the time I came to realise how valuable times of quiet and stillness can be, even more so since I came home.

St Beuno's cave was a very powerful place where a connection to the distant past could be felt. The pool at Llanrhaeader was an oasis of peace and calm.

However the most significant place for me was the Woodland chapel with continuous exposition I found myself continually drawn back there. Now if I feel stressed I can think myself back to there sitting quetly in the presence of the Lord.

Being able to attend Mass everyday was something special too with everything so calm and gentle.Definitely a case of less is more.Visiting the Rock Chapel was also a special experience. I had the privilege of sharing the retreat with a group of friendly and interesting fellow pilgrims and keep them all in my prayers.

The accommodation in a cottage was top notch and the food very good and plentiful. I came away from St Beuno's with a feeling of inner peace which has so far been maintained, also a great appreciation of the joy and benefit of silence. In fact I long to return and continue the experience.

Hopefully I will return next year.

Lyn Nelson.

 

To the Staff at St Beuno's July 2012

Thank you for welcoming me, loving me, fedding my body and spirit with the love and nourishment I desperately needed. I really cannot repay what all of you did for me. (I'm even grateful to the bees for not stinging me!)
.... I hope I can help spread the love and kindness you all game me to those around me.

Jude (aged 21)

Vicky Birkinshaw - Individually Guided Retreat June 2011

I recently attended an 8 day silent retreat at St Beunos and thought it was wonderful. I had heard about the retreat through a friend but didnt really know what I was letting myself in for, but actually the information on the website and the welcome meeting on the first night answered most of my immediate questions. The silence was not oppressive in the slightest and you could ask someone to ‘pass the salt’ at the dinner table without feeling that you had committed a crime! But the reality for me was that maintaining the silence was actually extremely freeing, it really enabled me to sit with myself and God in a special way.
Everybody’s retreat will be unique to them but I had some wonderful experiences during the week, things that will remain with me forever. The art room was an amazing blessing and the spiritual direction was a real priviledge. Having someone who gently asked questions that I would not have thought to ask myself was both challenging and rewarding and ultimately they were springboards for learning and growth. I found the atmosphere in the house and the grounds very peaceful and calming and the routine of meals and prayer helped me not to feel lost in the silence of the days. I felt I mattered to the St Beunos team and would recommend anyone to experience a retreat there. If I could offer a helpful suggestion to anyone considering a retreat, it would be to try not to go with preconceived ideas or fixed expectations but to simply follow where the spirit leads you!


William Gunn - Individually Guided Retreat June 2011

This was my very first retreat that lasted more than a day, and my first visit to St Beuno's. After a few people had recommended the centre to me, I finally bit the bullet and booked on an 8 day Individually Guided Retreat.

The retreat follows the exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, and as such is a 'Silent' retreat, that may sound quite daunting spending eight days without speaking, but actually as soon as you arrive at the centre and enter through the door you are welcomed by one of the team, who show you to your room and show you were everything is and will answer any questions you have.

The first afternoon of arrival you can talk as normal and eat and meet and chat to the other people on the retreat. The first night after dinner you have a group meeting with staff and all on the course or retreat and then you meet your Spiritual Director, by which time the peace of St Beuno's has entered you and your ready to ease into the silence of the retreat, your room is very comfortable and cool and light with lovely views across the Welsh countryside or the immaculate grounds. The silence is not a barrier at St Beuno's it is never imposed and if you need to ask a question at any time during your stay just ask, the staff are really friendly and always willing to assist you, your Spiritual Director is there for you to, you meet daily for around 45 minutes where you get a chance to talk about anything and everything and ask questions, they are fantastic listeners and they can design your retreat experience around you the individual.

There are all kinds of people on retreats from those who have a deep faith to those wishing to meet God for the first time and some who just want space to breath. St Beuno's is the place for everyone and you really can't fail to feel the love and peace of the place. Set in wonderful Countryside you can go for long walks over the hills to the local villages or through the expansive grounds of the centre, where you can walk in the gardens and climb the steps to the top of the hill which feels like your climbing in to heaven and stare across to the Sea with the windmills in it, or walking to the Rock Chapel through the fields. Or walking the stations of the Cross through some beautiful woodlands.

If you seen the "Big Silence" on BBC 2 you will have already seen the inside of the centre but reality is St Beuno's is so much better when you visit it, the silence is natural and personally at the time of writing this I have been back home for 3 weeks now and long to go back to St Beuno's. For me I had a chance to stop and hear God, and I've come back full of energy and somehow have become more peaceful and much happier and focussed. What to Expect from a retreat at St Beuno's to this I would say don't go with anything in mind just let the retreat and experience take you on the most inspiring journey.

The food is fantastic too.


Barbara Heaton - Introduction to Meditation Weekend July 2011

Both me and others were blown away at the Eucharist both Fr. David and Fr. Richard took on the last afternoon of the retreat. It was by far the loveliest Mass I have ever attended. It came as a complete surprise how the intimacy of the event unfolded and the feelings I felt overpowered me. I know I may sound just a teeny weensy tiny bit 'dramatic' :-) but its true. lol!

The weekend has and will always have a lasting effect on me. It has also left me wanting to experience more! and to experience true silence with prayer. Prayer is becoming very much apart of me, which is a surprise as I would never have thought it possible to see prayer as anything more than something that is done during times of distress or death and only by 'someone else' more devout than me.

The lessons on meditation with prayer really opened my eyes to something that I knew nothing of and didn't know existed - why oh why have I lived almost 60 years and not known this! :-) who's to blame? let me hunt them down and have a few strong words with them lol!

When l look at prayer now with opened eyes I see that it is such a natural thing to do and can be part of my life just as going for a run can be (or running up a very long stretch of steps when happy!). So do not be surprised if you see me wondering the corridors of St Beunos one day on a longer IGR retreat. :-) ....... silently!

But in all seriousness thank you once again for an enlightening experience ..................


Neville O'Neill - Individually Guided Retreat June 2010

I would say that as a 36 year old male living and working in London the retreat offered a welcome oportunity for me to focus on the spiritual as opposed to the material side of my life.

The environment was conducive to slowing down my mind which enabled me to get in touch with the spirit. There were many different approaches to my reflection, I enjoyed particularly the long walks in the North Wales countryside, with it's hills and coastal views and the joy of meditating as the sun set over the sea.

The emphasis was not specifically religious in a traditional sense, there was the opportunity for me to explore approaches to work in the future which in my case is working overseas with addictions. My spiritual director was very practical in her approach and with her experience of working overseas, she was able to assist me in contemplating a way of working in a difficult environment whilst drawing on the inner strength and peace that was being nurtured in my time at Beuno's.

After a very hectic last few years of work and travel, the retreat was also a source of renewal, allowing me to feel rested fully in a peaceful environment with wonderful facilities and excellent accomodation and locally sourced food. It gave me an oppotunity to step outside my life for a moment to see where I was going and where I had come from. It was a valuable pause, with nothing to concern me but the business of myself, in a positive way. There were many varied opportunities for me to explore my creative self, my spiritual self and the spirit around me in nature and within.

Although there was a structure to the week, there was no restraint and on occasion I found I wanted to walk to the sea at Prestatyn and have a coffee in the local town and at other times I found I was happy to sit alone in a hill or pray in one of the many beautiful rooms with in Beuno's. There was an unspoken pact that enabled a few retreatants to meet one day at the local pub to suffer the performance of England in the World Cup which made us only too glad to retreat from the world once more for a time.

It is an opportunity that is not presented so often to step outside the modern world and enter a space that is timeless in essence. I believe the retreat is of benefit to anyone who would like to take time to step outside their lifes to reflect upon where they are heading. It is a chance to draw on resources greater than the active mind and unavailable in the hurtling city.


Tom Younger

Tom Younger - June 2010

It's fair to say that I really did not know what to expect from my retreat. Even up to the moment I arrived, I wasn't certain that the retreat was what I needed, especially coming as it did at the end of a fairly intense month of traveling. But as soon as I met with my retreat guide, Steve, and the others on the first evening, I realized that I was just where I needed to be at that time.

As I entered properly into the silence, I was pleasantly surprised to find how natural it felt, and also how much there was to be heard, when I really made an effort to listen. A day in, I began to wonder whether 6 days would be sufficient.

As the week progressed, I became more and more acquainted with Beuno's (and the surrounding countryside) - the place has so much character: every corridor, chapel and corner is invested with so much personality. The atmosphere was conducive to the workings of the Spirit..in the silence I found myself more sensitive to the subtle nudgings that more often than not are obscured by the tasks of everyday life; I discovered a lot of laughter (something I certainly didn't expect) and felt my heart becoming warmer, less hardened.

The meetings with Steve each day were like cats' eyes, gleaming on the road, drawing me on and marking out the way ahead. The silence which surrounded them gave greater weight to every word, and if I can retain even just a fraction of all that I learnt, it will have been worthwhile. Also, I should mention that the structure of the retreat appealed to me greatly - just enough to create a rhythm of routine, but not too much to stifle spontaneity.

I've been back a few weeks now and have found that my days pass with a deeper sense of purpose. It's not that Beuno's has given me a new direction as such, but rather the experience has enabled me to see the direction already underlying my life with greater clarity. I can't really tell you what that feels like. When I arrived at Beuno's, I saw it in some ways as the end of my adventure for this summer - "Well, that's the camino done..now just to find work and sit it out until term starts again" - but now I see it more as the beginning of a new chapter, one that I'm well into and enjoying greatly.


 


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