About the Activity
In 2023 the Annual Parish Retreat will be held from Friday 6 October until Sunday 8 October at the Bezinningscentrum Emmaus in Helvoirt – near Den Bosch. You can see a video about the venue (in Dutch) here.
The theme is “The Names of Jesus in the Gospel of St. John and Their Meaning for our Spirituality”, and will be led by Fr. Ad van der Helm.
“What does the presence of God mean in our spiritual life? What do the various images we have of Jesus mean to us- the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, Way, Truth and Life, the True Vine.
The retreat will help us through reflection on biblical episodes, to strengthen our own relationship with Jesus.”
A short synopsis of what you may expect:
- The weekend begins on Friday after lunch (3:00 PM) and ends on Sunday after lunch (1:00 PM). It will include Friday evening Mass, daily workshops and discussions, and free time for reflection and relaxation. The weekend concludes with lunch after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday morning.
Attendance at group sessions is for you to decide and is not mandatory.
The priests who led the retreat in recent years were:
- 2022: Fr. Ad van der Helm with the theme “A multidimensional reflection on sacraments.”
- 2021: Fr. David K. Tolno with the theme “Fratelli Tutti”, in reference to Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers), the third encyclical of Pope Francis, focused on fraternity and social friendship.
- 2020: Fr. David K. Tolno with the theme “Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15, NIV)
- 2019: Fr. Dominic O’Toole, Pastor of the Vienna English Speaking Catholic Community, with the topic “Wanted: Friends and Footwashers”.
Registration for the retreat is now open!
Scroll down below for photos of the venue and testimonials.
Testimonials of Past Parish Retreat Attendees
Reflect and Reconnect
“A peaceful convent with a beautiful church and gardens was the setting for a well-planned retreat despite last minute changes due to COVID 19. Fr David lead us through insights and prayers which helped us all reflect and reconnect to Gods bread of life. Thanks for a great retreat.”
John and Julie, – Parish Retreat 2020 – Sittard
Physical and Spiritual Rest
“Parish Retreat is a time and a place where you have physical and spiritual rest. Your daily physical needs are taken care of. You do not need to cook or worry how to entertain your kids and family. Spiritually you are fed: by lectures on chosen topics; by opportunities to read the Bible and meditate on it; by discussions with likeminded people. Moreover, you make peace with yourself because you hear stories and see that other people struggle similar battles as you. Some of them are stronger and you can learn from them, some of them are those to whom you must provide comfort. In this way you feel a part of this small community. The best part of it is that every day we celebrated Mass and received Eucharist. We were united and uplifted in Christ. All of this inspired me to go on with my daily life.”
Audrone – Parish Retreat 2020 – Sittard
Peace of God Within Me
“The day I returned from this trip I was so Zen. I had nothing on my mind. I felt the peace of God within me. I wish I could feel that every Sunday. This weekend was exactly what I needed. I remember feeling so stressed from work the day of arrival but during the weekend that all changed. The people that were on this retreat were so warm and loving. We stayed in a convent in Sittard. It was such a nice environment to detach from everyday life. A lot of parks, nature and trees around the convent. The program that was set up during the weekend had options for everyone, some of this, some of that, nothing was compulsory. I cannot wait for what next year is going to bring.”
Kimberly – Parish Retreat 2020 – Sittard
The love of God, Friendship and Humility
“Dear COS parishioners, last year a group of us travelled to Sittard, a city in the south of The Netherlands to attend a retreat. For those of you who are wondering what a retreat is, I can describe it as an opportunity to develop and enrich your spiritual life. The retreat took place in the Carmelite Convent, Regina Carmeli, a pleasant building with nice accommodation and peaceful corners for private withdrawal. Our spiritual guide was Fr. Dominic O’Toole, a young, enthusiastic and inspirational Redemptorist priest, currently pastor of the Vienna English- speaking Catholic Community. Fr. Dominic lead us not only in liturgical services, but also in meditative moments and group sessions. The theme of the retreat was Friends and Foot Washers, a beautiful reminder of the love of God, friendship and humility. Fr. Dominic provided us with precious readings and prayers that especially in these days of anguish and sorrow are of great comfort. Last but not least, during the retreat we also had the chance to connect (‘religare’ as Fr. Sjaak says) with the other Retreat participants. At COS I work with the Justice and Peace Group, in particular with our Refugee Project, and I am following Religious studies in Antwerp”
Eca – Parish Retreat 2019 – Sittard
Disconnect From The Noise Around Us
“Last year’s retreat was held at Bezinningshuis Regina Carmeli, a convent in Sittard. The venue was genuinely nice. It was well equipped for our activities as you could enjoy our meetings in meeting rooms, time for self-reflection in a small chapel or at the bigger Church, have a coffee break in the cafeteria, walk around a small garden or venture into the town (just 10-15 minutes’ walk). The rooms were clean and well put, had everything you need to be comfortable but also disconnect from your busy days back home. Do not expect them to be as hotel rooms, as I said, the intention is to disconnect from so much noise around us so no TV in your room. The religious men and women that run the place were nice, and even though it’s their home, you end up feeling it’s a bit yours as well. This was my first retreat in the Netherlands, and I loved it! The organizers did a great job, the spiritual guidance was on point to our needs as everyday Christians battling in a complicated world and the group was great. The fact that the venue was also nice only reinforced the positive experience. I’m Salvadoran-Spanish, mother of a 6-year-old boy; active parishioner of Church of our Savior since September 2019. I currently work as language instructor and arrived in The Netherlands in August 2019.”
Lorena – Parish Retreat 2019 – Sittard
A Boost To My Faith
“Hi, I’m Rudy, Dutch, lived abroad for many years and returned to The Hague in 1980. Joining our church felt like extending my family. I immediately felt at home. Being amongst such a variety of warm and friendly parishioners with so many different nationalities was, and still is, an enriching experience. I really love the Parish retreat! No matter what the subject or theme, it gives me new and fresh insights and much needed time for reflection: a boost to my faith. The Regina Carmeli Convent in Sittard where the retreat has been held the last couple of years is quote: ‘an oasis of peace and a place to find yourself and find God’. It is situated close to the center of town (well worth a visit) and to the back of the convent there is a very pleasant well-kept garden. Within walking distance there is a nature reserve you can visit. It is all very peaceful, away from the maddening crowd. Prefect for contemplation and reflection in between the group sessions. The house is run by the Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus. The sisters are dedicated, friendly and clearly enjoy looking after us. Your room, with your own bathroom, is simple and very clean, the bed comfortable. It also has a desk with a chair and an easy chair. What more to you want? Please join us! The more, the richer the rewards…”
Rudy – Parish Retreat 2019 – Sittard