This is a guided, directed, contemplative retreat co-lead by visiting retreat conductor Dr Julie Mitchell and the College Dean, Canon Richard Sewell. In the context of the waiting and expectation of Advent, those on retreat will journey with Jesus from Bethlehem to Emmaus.
Through the ages, the Christian tradition has understood ‘retreat’ to be an important part of spiritual formation. A retreat provides an opportunity to draw aside from the rhythms, noise and pressures of daily life in order to draw near to God. In prayer, stillness, silence, rest and reflection we listen to, and cultivate a deeper relationship with God. We seek to be as fully present as we can be to God, ourselves and the moment. As our inner journey is nurtured, so we are refreshed in God’s call to our outward journeys – to incarnate the hope of Christ in us, in the many and varied relationships and places of our lives.
During this retreat, in the unique location of the Holy Land, visits to biblical locations will be focused on personal encounters with Jesus. Unlike our Study Pilgrimages, these visits will be limited to just one site each day and will not include in-depth on site lectures. Instead the retreat will enable prayerful contemplation in the places of Jesus’s life, death, resurrection and ministry. In general, afternoons will be set aside for silent prayer and reflection at the College (the schedule for the two days in Galilee will vary from this). Retreat materials drawing on the Arts (painting, poetry and music) will be provided for support, inspiration and challenge. Spiritual direction will be available during this time each day for each participant. Sharing in eucharist and liturgy will be an integral part of the retreat, as will the opportunity for sharing the day’s graces with each other in the evenings.
It is important that prospective participants note that in the course of this retreat only a limited number of holy sites will be visited. If it is your first journey to the Holy Land you might want to allow time either side of the retreat to undertake further exploration.
Dr Julie Mitchell is an Ignatian spiritual director, retreat leader and alumnus of St George’s College, Jerusalem. She has worked as an educator in secondary schools and universities for over 35 years and continues to teach in the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. She attends an Anglican church in inner-city Melbourne, is a keen amateur photographer, and is owned by two Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
The Very Revd Canon Richard Sewell has been in post as Dean since September 2018. Prior to that, he spent 18 years in parish ministry in London, England. Before ordination he worked for USPG, the Anglican Mission Society and travelled widely especially in Pakistan and Bangladesh which helped to shape his faith and spirituality. Dean Richard has led retreats to Iona, Scotland and the Holy Land. He is married to JulieAnn and has two adult children. He has wide interests in the arts, politics and sport.