The following is a report submitted to the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch Synod, detailing SERH activities during 2021.
Sr Constance Eveleen Barklie, formerly of the Community of the Sacred Name, bequeathed her House at 6 Whitewash Head Road to the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch on her death in 1939. She stipulated in her will that it be used ‘a) for spiritual help and prayer for men who are to be ordained to Holy Ministry, (b) for such men and women as Bishop of Christchurch sees fit to send there.’ She also requested it be used ecumenically.
The House was badly damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes of 2011. Repaired, renovated, and reopened in 2018, the House is currently re-establishing its ministry of spiritual help and prayer, and offering retreats, as Sr Eveleen desired. Operating under a Diocesan Statute (2009), with a Board of
Oversight, and a live-in House Director, it is offering an increasing program of retreats attracting people from various denominations and from around New Zealand.
Ongoing improvements are being made to the House, Annex, and property as finances allow. The Annex roof was replaced early in 2022 and the wiring was attended to at the same time.
The Board is grateful to the generous donors who contributed towards funding the House Director’s salary for 2 years. Edward O’Connor started in that position in May 2021.
The House offers retreats of varying lengths, day events, and the private hire of rooms for personal refreshment. Retreats in the last year have covered such themes as Mid-winter Christmas, 7 days of silence, Julian of Norwich, Holy week, Unplugged (a retreat specifically for young adults), Meister Eckhart, St Francis. Planned offerings include Teresa of Avila, a Winter Creative Retreat, and the Desert Fathers. Nine retreats were run in the 2020/2021 year; 18 have been run in the 2021/2022 year. A further increase is planned for the 2022/2023 year. In addition. we are developing a pool of spiritual directors able to offer retreats on a variety of themes on behalf of the House.
In pre-Covid times, the Daily Offices of Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayer held at the House were open to anyone who wished to attend. These were very popular, and it is our intention to reopen these services to the local community as soon as specific Covid restrictions are eased. In 2021, 730 people attended the Daily Offices (until the August closure); 439 people stayed overnight, and 14 retreats of varying lengths were held at the House.
Details of House activities and retreats on offer are available on the House website https://www.sistereretreat.com/
The Board of Sister Eveleen Retreat House looks forward to assisting Parishes and the Diocese in implementing the DMAP.