CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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New stewards at Shek O Holistic Retreat Centre

The Holistic Retreat Centre at Shek O has been staffed by the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban for the past 12 years, but as the sisters begin to pack up to leave Hong Kong, they are preparing to hand over the seaside centre, which they have transformed with their magic touch of love and grace, to Carmelite priests from Indonesia.

Mamie Lau told the Sunday Examiner that she believes there is a sadness about the departure of the sisters and said that people want to assure them of their heartfelt thanks for the many hours they have spent listening to and guiding the thousands of people who have passed through the centre during their time.

“We have, specially, a vote of thanks to Sister Isobel Loughrey and Sister Patricia Byrne, who have been running the retreat centre, making it a peaceful and prayerful haven for retreatants,” Lau said.

Carmelite priests from Indonesia will continue accommodating groups and individuals who come for retreats and spiritual guidance. They will also offer retreat programmes and spiritual formation for religious and lay people.

Catering for the pastoral needs of the nearby residents and tourists visiting the beautiful Shek O beaches, the Carmelites will celebrate Mass at the centre every day of the week, an up on the previous schedule of Sunday afternoon only, when a visiting priest came from downtown Hong Kong.

Commonly known as the Carmelites, the full name is the Order of the Brothers of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. It was founded at Mount Carmel in the Holy Land, Israel, in the 12th century.

The general motherhouse is in Rome. In their mission, they are called to walk together as brothers and to serve the people in whose midst they live. They are to pray with perseverance, especially by keeping vigil and praying the psalms. Those interested to learn more can visit their website at

On 21 October 2013, the Carmelites came to Hong Kong. There are three priests in the territory; Father Heribertus Heru Purwanto and Father David Tristianto, who will both by stationed at the retreat centre in Shek O. Father Paulus Waris Santoso is on the staff of St. Anne’s parish in Stanley.

Father Purwanto is the superior in Hong Kong. Father Tristianto has a green thumb and will make good use of the garden at the retreat centre to grow vegetables, flowers, trees and maybe some surprises.

In the words of Psalm 107, he may turn deserts into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs.

The retreat centre at Shek O is a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and offers an uncluttered meditative time and space with the Lord.

The Carmelites will provide a tranquil spiritual sanctuary in this desert land. Bookings are necessary and can be made on 2809 4804. It is located on Headland Road.


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