Divine Retreat Centre Ramsgate
|Patron||St. Augustine of Canterbury|
|Address||Divine Retreat Centre, St. Augustine Abbey, St. Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT119PA, Kent, UK.|
|Email $ Web||http://divineuk.org/ ;|
01. Fr. Edattu Joseph Jr. - Associate Director & Finance Officer
02. Fr. Panackal George - Superior; Director Retreat Centre & Chairman, Divine - Goodness Media
03. Fr. Punnolil Kuriakose - Member V.H. & Preaching Ministry, Darlington
01. Divine Retreat Centre, Darlington - Tel: 0044 1325469400
02. Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate
HISTORY AND PRESENT ACTIVITIES
In the late sixth century, Pope Gregory I dispatched a small group of monks led by St. Augustine to bring back Christianity to southern England. King Ethelbert of Kent was easily converted and he donated land to set up a monastery. Some 940 years of monastic life, scattering of treasures, a redesign by Augustus Welby Pugin (most famous architect in England who was architect of Big Ben, London parliament and Canterbury cathedral etc.) and much restoration later, renewed activity has come back in 2014 (The monastery is now gone but the abbey survives - albeit with its Whitby sandstone a little smudged. The abbey was one of four Benedictine monasteries in Great Britain. It was donated to the Church by the famous architect Pugin, who also built the nearby Grange and church)
When the abbey was up for sale in 2013, the mother of local parish rector Fr. Marcus Holden prayed that it would not become the grounds for a pub or a hotel, but would be used for spiritual work. A group of nuns of Mother Teresa’s order saw the ‘on sale’ board and went a step further. They threw a miraculous medal into the compound, fervently praying for a miracle. A miracle is what they got – when Vincentians from India bought the abbey; it was blessed and renamed the Divine Retreat Centre UK, on 16 March, 2014.
His Excellency Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Southwark, while blessing and inaugurating the spiritual renewal centre in the presence of nearly two thousand people, emphasized his hope that the Vincentian Congregation would bring a new spiritual wave into his people. “Once again St Augustine’s Abbey should become a centre where Jesus brings his disciples to manifest His glory and power. Unfortunately God has disappeared from the lives of the people today. Hence the delight of life has also vanished from their hearts. People are not able to relish the beauty of Christian faith and living. I wish that this new retreat centre will bring the presence of God and delight of living to them who come here.
“It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing” (Is 35:2). In Ramsgate, on the shores of the sea of Dover, spring has already set in and cherry trees are in full bloom, around the abbey. It was while looking at those cherry blossoms that Fr. Marcus Holden, made a prophetic declaration when the centre was inaugurated. “The first springtime of the salvation of Canterbury was when St Augustine set foot on the shores of Kent and proclaimed the good news of salvation. The second springtime set in when in 1860 the Benedictine monastery was established and the monks took charge of the evangelization of the area. Now the third springtime has come in, with the Vincentian Fathers taking up St. Augustine’s Abbey to start the proclamation of God’s word with the Divine Retreat Centre.”
It is providential that Divine came to the Ramsgate to pioneer the re-evangelization of England, which is the birthplace of Christianity in the UK. The abbey where we are based is one of the National Heritage sites. At present, retreats are held in English, Malayalam, Konkani and Tamil. Every month, we have minimum three residential retreats and two one-day conventions. We can hold 110 people in our centre for residential retreats. We have almost 50 rooms at this centre. Most of these three day retreats are attended in its full capacity. We hold lots of outreach programs in parishes across the UK, during week days.