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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number 204 - Autumn/Winter 2006


Participants from as far afield as Cumbria, Yorkshire, Somerset and South Wales gathered again at Boars Hill, near Oxford, for our annual two-day Retreat. Over the many years that this event has been running, we have retained a core of faithful friends, as well as welcomed fresh faces.

This year we had a particularly full programme, interspersed with taking part in the prayer life of the Carmelite Community. Dr Edward Echlin gave a talk explaining that Godís earth creatures are an earth or soil community and that they all praise God by being themselves. When we love them, he explained, we share Godís love and that, with them in our mutual love, we are a worshipping earth community.

He also gave a meditation with slides, and brought along Bertha, the family Pekinese, as a visual aid, a part she played to perfection! Deborah Jones spoke on the British Christian origins of animal welfare, from early Celtic culture to the origins of the RSPCA, with many literary examples on the way. Leonie Caldecott gave an interesting talk on her approach to children and animals within her own family.

In much of what should have been free time, members chose a Prayer Vigil, concentrating on praying for the closure or change of use of the Primate Laboratory currently being built at Oxford. On Saturday evening, John Brayshaw, from Yorkshire, gave an inspiring audio-visual presentation, with pictures of scenes from the Oberammergau Passion play.

On leaving the Retreat, several members travelled to Gloucester Cathedral to hear a lecture by Reverend Andrew Linzey organised by Ark member, Lynne Chitty. His theme was ĎCan Christianity accommodate the growing awareness to the sensitivity of animalsí. We judged it had been well worth the effort to attend.

Next year

The last two Retreats have taken place in the South of England, and it was intended to alternate between North and South in fairness to all our members. However, I have just discovered a little gem on the North Wales Coast (does this constitute North?) and so this has been booked for next year. This venue came highly recommended, has been checked out and it is indeed charming. We are fortunate in securing the dates of 16-18 May 2007 as they are already full on the other dates we had in mind. The Retreat House is Noddfa, Conwy Old Road, Penmaenmawr, North Wales. Web site  More details in the next issue of The Ark.

Irene Casey

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