Our Works & Community

Brand-new retreat centre taking shape on Sydney's outskirts

The Centre will feature accommodation for up to 150 guests

The Benedict XVI Retreat Centre is nearing completion, creating a purpose-built retreat centre for Catholic schools, parishes, religious orders and other groups.

Set on 16 hectares of pristine bushland just over an hour's drive from Sydney the Centre is located near Richmond in the peaceful, unspoilt region of Grose Vale in the Hawkesbury Council district.

The redevelopment of the centre is a major project being undertaken by the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Catholic Education Office Sydney. By year's end, the two organisations will have almost totally redeveloped the site into a wonderful complex of accommodation, retreat, meeting and sporting facilities with a dignified and beautifully designed chapel at its heart.

The centre is now taking bookings for2014 and beyond and has received a diverse range of bookings, highlighting how versatile the space will be for multi-purpose use. In 2014 the Centre will welcome schools, church groups, families, religious orders, Catholic ethnic groups, universities, special group events etc.

Accommodation for up to 150 guests will be divided into two completely separate accommodation blocks. Unlike many retreat premises, every room will have an ensuite, along with proper storage and king single bunk beds. Single occupancy, twin-, triple- or quad-share configurations can be organised at different price points. Dedicated wheelchair accessible rooms are also available.

The success of the centre hinges on being absolutely relevant to guests' needs, so extensive feedback has been sought about what makes a retreat special and memorable and this has guided decisions on the construction and operation of the Centre.

The Centre is located in a serene bushland setting

Apart from the large playing field and walking trails, there is a swimming pool, an all purpose ball court, a beach volleyball court and a covered recreational area for games such as table tennis. The centre also has a large-capacity main hall (seating up to 150), a smaller hall, plenty of smaller meeting and break-out rooms, some with kitchenettes-plus outdoor covered areas for al fresco meeting, courtyards with barbecues, and a designated sick bay.

Though able to accommodate up to 150 guests at one time, given the separate facilities for both accommodation and meeting rooms/halls, two or more smaller groups can be readily accommodated at the one time.

All retreats and events at the centre will be fully catered by professional caterers operating out of the Centre's large commercial kitchen. Guests can expect high quality nutritional food choices, with seasonal and innovative menus and if something special is required, menus can be tailored to groups' requirements.

More information is available at: www.sydneycatholic.org/works/retreat_centre.shtml

For bookings and enquiries contact: Catherine Robert bxvi@sydneycatholic.org Mob: 0404 892 382

Chapel at the heart of the Centre nears completion

The beautiful chapel under construction

The beautiful Chapel situated at the heart of the Centre has been covered in scaffolding for months but as it now draws close to completion, its true beauty is revealed. Much thought has gone into the fit-out for this special place of reflection and there are many original items of art and sculpture which will adorn the interior.

Hanging in the high space of the sanctuary, there will be a monumental crucifix in the Romanesque tradition. The figure of Christ Crucified combines the reality of the suffering and death of the Lord with the quiet majesty of the King who rose victorious from the tomb. It will invite us to enter into the celebration of the Eucharist where the saving power of this mystery is made present for us.

The solid altar of finest botticino marble is the centre and focus not only of the chapel itself, but of the whole complex.

Figure of Christ to be hung on the Romanesque Crucifix

It is the place where, as the Second Vatican Council taught, we find the source and summit of the whole Christian Life. It is carved with the monogram of Christ (the letters X - in Greek, Chi - and P - in Greek, Rho - the first two letters of Christ's name). During its dedication it will be anointed with chrism, signifying that it will be a sign of the Anointed One. We too are anointed to bring the Gospel to the world of our time.

A special series of mural frescoes will be painted on the back wall of the Chapel behind the altar. They are to be produced by Italian craftsmen painting in the style typical of the community of The Neocatechumenal Way, with gilded finishes and frames. The tabernacle is coming from Spain and a special series of prints depicting The Stations of the Cross is to be hung in magnificent decorative frames being created by students at the Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College.

With soaring ceilings in blue reminiscent of mediaeval chapels, a choir loft and seating for 150, the Chapel will truly be an inspiration for all those who visit the Centre.