Yalla, Yalla – Time to Move on – Joint Retreat Draws to a Close
Clergy from the United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough are on their way home from Jordan where they participated in a joint retreat with clergy of our partner Diocese of Jerusalem. This is the ‘second leg’ of the retreat. Clergy from Jerusalem visited Dublin & Glendalough before Covid. Here, the Revd Colin McConaghie, Rector of Castleknock and Mulhuddart with Clonsilla, reflects on the final day of the retreat, Thursday March 2.
Yalla is a colloquial term in the Middle East mostly used to enthusiastically encourage someone to get a move on. The focus of the final day of our joint retreat has been very much on moving on or moving forward, although not perhaps with the immediacy of “yalla” but with prayerful reflection and building upon what has gone before.
The day began with Holy Communion celebrated by Archbishop Michael. Using the Eucharist Prayer of the Anglican Church of Australia we joined in these words echoing our shared faith and mission:
“As one body and one holy people
May we proclaim the everlasting Gospel”
As we gathered for the final time Archbishop Michael thanked Archbishop Hosam, the Diocesan Clergy and the nuns and staff of the retreat centre for their hospitality and friendship and for the warm welcome.
Archbishop Michael presented Archbishop Hosam a copy of ‘Living Faith, Living History’, a book written by children of parish national schools in Dublin and Glendalough. As Rector of St Brigid’s I had the privilege of presenting Archbishop Hosam and Sister Antoinette with a gift of St Brigid’s Crosses.
Explaining the history of St Brigid as a slave and refugee, her faith and her establishment of monastic centres where she reached out to the poor and oppressed we could see links to our Bible Study of 1st Peter and our ministry in both Ireland and the Holy Land. The heart of St Brigid to reach out to others in compassion and hospitality echoes the stories of sacrificial ministry we have heard shared by those ministering in the Holy Lands and the wonderful hospitality of the nuns in the Rosary Sisters retreat centre.
As we began to look forward to how our partnership can move on and continue to flourish, ArchbishopMichael warmly invited Archbishop Hosam and a number of his clergy to join us in Dublin and Glendalough on a suitable date in 2024. Our hope is that clergy from the Diocese of Jerusalem will be able to spend time in Parishes along with a retreat based on Peter 2. There will be opportunity to share the story of life in the Holy Lands through the media as well as making connections with schools and other areas of mutual interest.
Clergy from both Dioceses then shared their reflections on the retreat and hopes for the future partnership. There was a great sense of joy and friendship from having this opportunity to gather.
The Revd Rob Jones said: “The Living Stones from the Holy Land coming and dwelling with us will bring blessing and new life.” Canon Faeq Haddad (Amman, Jordan) added: “We can feel like we are becoming a dried well, but as we have worshipped and joined together our wells have been filled through fellowship and Gods Spirit.”
Rob Jones then give a presentation on our new pioneer ministry initiative in the Church of Ireland as we seek to move forward finding new ways to be church and to renew existing ways. Archbishop Hosam thanked Rob for his presentation saying that the Diocese of Jerusalem had much to learn as they considered how they themselves can move forward in ministry.
A number of clergy from both Dioceses then took in a visit of Whitman Academy School. The school covers both primary and secondary school aged children with 220 pupils. The children are all from Christian families working in Amman often as missionaries. We were given a tour of the new school building which opened in 2021 by principle Dan Nichols who had moved to Annan from his home in Australia, along with Mary, wife of the Revd George Kopti and Carries, wife of the Revd Malcolm Forrest.
Following lunch it was time to yalla, move, as we said our final farewells to our hosts to travel back to the capital Amman. An afternoon was spent taking in the sites, sound and smells of the bustling city.
As each of us goes our own way and we hear our final “yalla” in a country that certainly won’t move on from our hearts, we will continue to reflect individually, as a group and with all of you in the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. We will all seek in Gods strength to move on together to further God’s Kingdom both in Ireland and with our friends in what truly is Holy Lands.