Love and Suffering: Five Day Seminar at Minsteracres brings Passionists from Across the World

26th September 2019

They came from Ireland, Australia, Poland, Botswana, Germany, Sweden, Tanzania, Germany, The Netherlands, and, of course, from England. This year’s International Passionist Seminar, held bi-annually at Minsteracres Retreat Centre in County Durham, had the title “Love and Suffering”, and over five days from 16th to 20th September had a range of speakers exploring those themes and how they related to the Passionist Charism, keeping alive “The Memory of the Passion”.

As well as Passionist brothers from six provinces, there were also a number of Cross and Passion Sisters from England, some members of the Community of the Passion (CoP) and some staff and volunteers from the community at Minsteracres.

Fr Dennis Travers cp from the Australian Passionist Province held the week together, chairing discussion sessions and introducing speakers, and led an introductory reflective session on the Monday, which in the afternoon was followed by the opening of an art exhibition at the Minsteracres Walled Garden. Put together by CoP Members Lya Vollering and John Thornhill, the “pop up” gallery shared the Love and Suffering” theme, and featured paintings, collages and sculptures from a range of artists with Passionist connections. This included an installation on a washing line outside entitled “Underpants to the Underpass” which had been used recently as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest against a proposed £30m development on the A69 in Hexham.

On Tuesday, keynote speaker Karen Kilby, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, led three sessions, which were followed on Wednesday and Thursday by sessions from six Passionists on academic, theological, reflective and activist themes. This included session from our own Martin Newell cp entitled “Love and Suffering in a time of Climate Emergency”, relating the Passionist charism to the “Crucified Earth” in the context of his role in campaigning against climate change.

After Wednesday’s reflective sharing session, the three speakers for that day come together for a short videoed conversation where they commented on how they had been impacted by each other’s sessions and in particular the value of face to face connections during the week. Therese O’Regan cp of the Cross and Passion sisters in England said “That’s the beauty of coming together and sharing, I agree that the digital world is wonderful, but there is nothing to beat the human contact.” In reply Łukasz Andrzejewski cp said “That’s why gatherings like this are so important, not just to share the stories but the experiences as well.”

Every one of the fifty or so delegates took shared stories and experiences back to their own context, but it was also hoped that the seminar would become a resource for other Passionists and would be Passionists. As such the sessions were videoed and are being assembled on a Vimeo channel, and notes and presentations are being assembled for a resource on the website.

Click to go to the Vimeo Channel for the Seminar.[/fusion_text]