This last week I have been looking back over the time at St Katharine's, Parmoor, since I arrived in early 2019.
What a journey we've all had! It has been an incredible time for everyone for so many different reasons, but we are grateful here for the life of St Katharine's, Parmoor and all that is happening.
The first year was really a time of settling in, re-focusing the house to it's core calling and seeing what the road ahead was to look like. Little did we know where 2020 was going to take us!! COVID, lockdowns, uncertainty in all areas of life - and for us, would the House see this time through.
Through the 2nd half of 2021 we were able to open the doors again and gradually, we saw numbers increase as people started to feel a bit more comfortable with being around others.
At the beginning of 2022, Vanessa, who is now our lead chaplain, gave me the following verse...
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43: 18-9)
What a reassurance! We can testify to Him doing just as He promises in that verse.
Of course, we are human! Through 2022, there were many more challenges, the cost of energy and food rising massively, other world events, and once again, the future was uncertain. My mother passed away in April 2022 and this verse was given to me a couple of weeks before she left us, but it spoke to so many situations, both personally and to the life of the House.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-7)
Those prayers and petitions have been said by so many people - and we thank each and every person for them - they are being answered continually.
So what's been happening in 2023?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
We are continuing to see an increase in the number of people using St Katharine's, Parmoor. We have a wonderful team of 10 people who are a joy to work alongside.
Our programme of retreats and quiet days are being well received. As this was the first year we have provided these, we are encouraged by the number of people booking on to these.
A huge step forward was the introduction in May, of our volunteer Chaplaincy Team - currently 16 delightful, prayerful and encouraging people. There is one of the team here most week days and they are available for personal prayer, spiritual direction or 'an ear to listen'. They also lead Midday Prayers - to which anyone is invited to attend.
Our bookings for 2024 are already at a level we couldn't have imagined at this time last year - but we know there is still a lot to do.
So as we approach the end of this year, we just want to give thanks to a faithful God - and believe that we will remain true to the wishes of Lady Ryder and Mother Christine back in 1997 - that, as a Christian Retreat House, we are here for everyone - whether of faith, any faith or no faith.
We look forward to welcoming many of you in the coming weeks and months.