Jesuit leads Moravian ministers retreat
Brendan McManus SJ led a retreat for Moravian ministers, in Sarum College, Salisbury (see photo) from 28 February-3 March 2022. He was invited by Jared Stephens from Northern Ireland, a fellow open water swimmer. This was the ministers’ annual retreat and 16 members from the Moravian Church in Great Britain and the Ireland Province took part.
The Moravian Church was originally called the Unity of the Brethren, and originates from the Northeastern region of the Czech Republic. Although formally established as a separate Church in 1457, its origins reach back some fifty–years earlier to the Czech Reformation. It subsequently merged with the Protestant movement from the Lutheran Reformation but preceded it by some sixty years. The Moravian Church today is small but alive, currently comprised of twenty–four independent provinces worldwide.
Brendan used the book that Jim Deeds and himself wrote, Finding God in the Mess, as the structure of the retreat. “The book focuses on scripture,” says Brendan, “which in turn is a solid basis for the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola so in this context the book was a good choice. It teaches us that God holds us close, loves us, and desires the best for us at all times. This truth is a solid foundation upon which we can build our lives, find an anchor amid life’s storms, and bring us through our darkest hours.”
The retreat followed this basic Christian structure: 1. We are created good by God, 2. Life is messy, 3. We are never alone in the mess. 4. Hand it over to God, 5. God does not want to keep us in the mess.
These themes formed the basis of the retreat and Brendan used a combination of personal prayer with scripture, reflection and journaling, and small group discussions.
“The location in Salisbury was particularly beautiful with the impressive Salisbury Cathedral just across the way,” says Brendan, adding that the group attended Evensong there on a number of evenings.
Sarum College, a Church of England theological college, is based in historic grade 1-listed buildings in Salisbury’s Cathedral Close where theological education goes back more than 160 years.
Brendan also noted that throughout the days of discussions and reflection during the retreat “the situation in Ukraine was never far from our thoughts and prayers.”