The Grail Visits Bribie Island

December 6, 2017

On the 3 - 5 November, the Queensland Grail group held a retreat at Coungeau House on Bribie Island. According to Ann Aboud, "It was a great success! We met up with people who had known the Grail in the past and were pleased to make contact again, and also with people who would like to know more about the Grail."

Here is Ann Aboud's summary of the retreat:

Day 1

Arriving on Bribie Island

On Friday everyone settled down to eat delicious lasagna and dessert provided by Jill Herbert, Barbara Erskine and Mary Mennis. After dinner, we listened to an illustrated talk by Mary M about her involvement in Papua New Guinea.

Day 2

Morning Prayer

We started Saturday morning with Jan O'Donoghue, Mary Nelson and Jill inviting us to pray with Psalmody Antiphon 1:  'A shoot has sprung from the stock of Jesse'.  We then read from Matt.25:55-56 and reflected on saints Lucy, Agnes, Agatha, Perpetua, Felicity, Edith Stein, Mary MacKillop et al.

All Souls

Mary lit candles for Grail women we remembered and asked us to name them. We then sang Out of the Depths. Afterwards, we read Paul's letter to the Philippians and sang Bernadette Farrell's Everyday God.

Women of Vision

Ann summarised the history of the Grail with emphasis on Australia and asked everyone to gather into small groups to read and reflect on the stories of 6 women: Frances van der Schott; Ton Brouwer, Rebecca Nerida, Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, Elisabeth Namaganda and Imelda Gaurwa. Reports back on these wonderful women were enlivened by Jay Rosales Scoullar, who was recruited to the Grail by Rebecca and Jill and who knew Imelda in Tanzania.

Thomas Berry: Cultural Historian and Passionist Priest (1914-2009)

Janet presented a poem: Earth's Desire and a summary of Berry's thoughts on the recent development in the evolutionary history of the cosmos and its sacred reality. Sin today is global and communal. As Pope Francis says in Laudato Si we need 'ecological conversion'. This lecture prompted animated discussion.

Eco Bags

After lunch, Emily Ta'atu demonstrated how to plait grass into carry bags and Helen gave us cloth bags to decorate and take home. She helped us make St Brigid crosses and we had a great time.

Retreat at Bribie Island 1

We completed the day with Mass at 6 pm. The bright lights of Bribie were foregone and we had dinner back at Coungeau House.

Day 3

Laudato Si

We began with a prayer from Leunig: 'Dear God, we pray for another way of being and another way of knowing'.

Prayer by Leunig

There was a discussion on quotes from Laudato Si (some good ones compiled by Patricia Gemmell), followed by a reflection on Chapter 6. This chapter brings together the strands of the Pope’s ecological message – care for the earth and social justice are linked and an essential part of our Christian practice. He advocates a simplified and contemplative lifestyle, nurtured by the Eucharist in particular, which brings the presence of Christ intimately into the world. We ended with a centering prayer.


We then had a closing liturgy using the Season of Creation Prayer developed by the Mercy Sisters, which included a message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. First, we sang the Canticle of the Sun by Marty Haugen.

The Reading was Wild Love for the World by Joanna Macy in Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippet. Then we read the Canticle of Creation and paused for reflection and to answer this question: 'What concern about our common home have you recently learned about (or is near your heart) and what is your response to it? The liturgy concluded with a gratitude prayer requesting guidance in meeting the needs of the earth.

Then it was time for a quick snack, a cleanup and return home. It was a weekend of refreshment, renewal and friendship. This is definitely to be an annual event.

A big thank you to everyone who shopped, cooked, baked, brought food, drink, provided transport, creative materials, resources, set up displays and gave presentations. It was a great effort and everyone needs to be congratulated for their efforts, skills, wisdom and contributions of all kinds.

Retreat at Bribie Island 4

Feature image via Graham Cook. Additional images via Mary Mennis and Leunig.