Last updated on 25 November 2022
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THE DIOCESE OF WOLLONGONG
The Diocese of Wollongong
The Diocese of Wollongong was established in 1951 from elements of the Archdiocese of Sydney and Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. In 1954 the Macarthur region was added to the Diocese. In 1974, the southern parishes of Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma were transferred to the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn. Bishop Brian Mascord was installed as the fifth Bishop of Wollongong on 22 February 2018. While the Wollongong diocese is relatively recent, the churches of Campbelltown (1835), Appin (1837), Wollongong (1838), Picton (1847), Kiama (1852), Camden (1859), Shellharbour (1861), Nowra (1863), The Oaks (1865), Albion Park (1867), Bulli (1886), Berrima (1889) and Milton-Ulladulla (1890) trace their Catholic legacy back to the early times of European settlement and to the era of Archbishop John Bede Polding, Australia’s first bishop.
The Diocese of Wollongong is the largest non-capital city diocese, and the eighth largest diocese in Australia in terms of Catholic population (out of 33 total). The diocese now ministers to 191,000 Catholics in 29 parishes, with 15 migrant chaplaincies.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Dharawal nation upon whose land our Catholic parish, schools and agencies are built. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders—past, present and emerging.
Catholic Education – Diocese of Wollongong
The Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) was established in 1952 and serves Catholic systemic school communities across the four regions of the Illawarra, Macarthur, Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven.
There are currently 29 Catholic parish primary schools, eight Catholic co-educational secondary schools and one K-12 Catholic school, who together with the Catholic Education Office, constitute the system of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wollongong.
There are also eight independent Catholic schools administered by religious congregations within the Diocese (known as congregational schools) – seven secondary schools, and one K-12 school for students with special needs.
CatholicCare is the social services agency of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong, covering the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Macarthur and Southern Highlands Regions. CatholicCare has been here for over 40 years to give everyone – regardless of faith or background – someone to turn to during challenging times. They can bring you the right support to overcome adversity, big or small, with the help of dedicated and qualified staff.
CatholicCare offers support, guidance and a listening ear to families and individuals. Family services include Foster Care, School Care, Out of School Hours Care (OOSH), Vacation Care, Early Education Care, School, Student and Family Program, Pastoral Support in Schools, Family Care, Counselling, Courses, ParentsNext and Children’s Contact.
CatholicCare provides a range of in-home support services to support people to live independently and make living in their own home much easier. CatholicCare works with you to tailor services to suit your needs and requirements. We will support you to live safely and independently at home. Program, Pastoral Support in Schools, Family Care, Counselling, Courses, ParentsNext and Children’s Contact.
CatholicCare is a registered provider for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and can assist adults with disabilities to full and independent lives by working with them and their carers to tailor packages to meet their needs.
As part of CatholicCare’s commitment to holistic care, they can offer support, when appropriate, to people searching for spiritual fulfilment. We work closely with schools and parishes in our Diocese to ensure continuity of care via Chaplaincy in Juvenile Justice, Community Visitors Scheme and Parish and Community Liaison.
Catholic Development Fund
The Catholic Development Fund helps the Diocese of Wollongong (the agencies, parishes and schools) in the management of their finances.Since 1961, the CDF has been helping the Church in the Diocese of Wollongong to achieve its pastoral mission by lending funds to parishes, schools and diocesan groups at low cost so they do not need to borrow money commercially.
Operating as a ‘not for profit’ and after making a provision for reserves, the CDF distributes its surplus to the Diocese to support its charitable and pastoral works. The CDF also offer clients a competitive range of investment and savings products.
Catholic Business Connections
Catholic Business Connections (CBC) provides an opportunity for business women and men in The Diocese of Wollongong (active and retired) who share common values, to network and engage with each other and leaders representing the diocese.
CBC meets four times a year for lunch and to listen to guest speakers chosen to inspire with their unique story and share how they relate their work and spiritual life experience to the context of living in a modern world.
Catholic Youth Ministry Wollongong
The Catholic Youth Ministry Wollongong site features LIVE Online and the CYMW blog. CYMW also hosts online young adult Bible study for people aged 17 – 35 every Tuesday night between 7.00pm and 8.00pm. Check out @cymdow on Facebook or Instagram for more details. It also holds an online alpha series for young people aged 13 – 18. Young alpha is a video series that tackles questions on faith, life and God; from 7.00pm – 8.00pm each Friday. For more information and to register, click here. Together with NET, CYMW host online Adoration every Thursday from 4.00pm – 5.00pm via Facebook or Instagram at @net.wollongong.
Catholic Special Religious Education
The Education Act 1990 states, “In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion.” Special religious education (SRE) is education in the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion. Under the Education Act 1990, government schools allow time for SRE. It is delivered by authorised representatives of approved religious groups to students who have nominated that religion. Times for classes are negotiated with the school.
SRE is taught by volunteer catechists who are members of their local Catholic community. They are authorised and trained by their local parish priest and the Diocese of Wollongong. Catechists come from all walks of life but share the common mission of providing Catholic religious instruction for Catholic children in state schools.
In the Diocese of Wollongong, the Christ Our Light and Life teaching curriculum has been approved for use by Bishop Brian Mascord. The curriculum uses a systematic approach to faith education and progresses in understanding and complexity as the student moves through their primary schooling years.
Journey is an award winning biannual magazine published by the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong. It celebrates the good things happening in Catholic culture and life in the Diocese of Wollongong as well as exploring important issues from a Catholic perspective.
26,000 copies are printed of each edition and circulated in 32 parishes, 45 schools, 16 ethnic chaplaincies, various local Catholic workplaces and every Catholic diocese and agency in Australia.
The Journey Podcast & Radio
Journey Catholic Radio is a weekly radio program and podcast developed by the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong all about faith, hope, love and life. It includes music, a weekly Gospel reflection, interviews and a variety of weekly inputs from some of the best Catholic presenters in Australia.
Journey Catholic Radio is a work of the Diocese undertaken in partnership with Pulse 94.1FM Wollongong, and aired on a growing number of Christian radio stations around Australia.
Australian Catholic Cursillo Movement
Cursillo is a life changing experience meant to be lived, a method of supporting and encouraging our lives as Christians through friendship and a way of living life to the full. The goal of the Cursillo Movement is that there will be more Christians who will live the Good News by becoming the Good News. Cursillo offers an opportunity to grow, a chance to experience the love and Grace of God and a way of continuing our life’s journey together as Christians.
For many people attracted to The Cursillo Movement, their first encounter is usually a 3 Day Weekend Retreat. The 3 Day weekend is not an end unto itself. It is only the beginning, and leads into what followers, called Cusillistas, call The Fourth Day. The Fourth Day is where we continue our journey together, back in the real world. This is the most important part of Cursillo. We experience the support and encouragement of a group of friends as we find a way to live the Gospel in our lives.
menALIVE is a National Catholic Ministry to Men which was founded out of a response to a great need in the hearts and lives of men, and a great need in the life of the Catholic Church. The purpose of menAlive is to bring men together, to renew their faith in God and to encourage them become an active force of renewal in the Church. Through a variety of events and programs, men are invited to explore what God would want for their lives and how they might come to experience the fullness of life that God wants for us all.
The most important thing that a man can discover is that God is at work in his life; he is not just out there on his own, battling his way through. The vision of menALIVE is to create an opportunity for that to happen and then try not to get in God’s way.
Alpha is an opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith, in a friendly, open and informal environment. It is for this reason that a growing number of parishes are offering Alpha in the diocese.
Everyone has questions about life, faith, and what it might mean to know God. Alpha provides an opportunity to explore these questions and discover what the Christian faith might have to offer in response. Alpha is your opportunity to ask questions and share your point of view. All people are welcome to attend.
Alpha is not so much a course, but an experience. Gathering once a week for a meal over a ten-week period, each Alpha brings together people from every walk of life. No matter where Alpha takes place, the format is the same. We eat together, we listen to a talk and then we gather in small groups for discussion.
Over 29 million people across the globe have done Alpha.
As the use of Alpha continues to grow in our diocese, Faith Circles is the ideal post-Alpha resource for continuing to build and develop strong community and faith relationships with God and one another. Faith Circles are faith sharing small groups aimed at bringing people together to share their lives and the ways in which Jesus is working in them through his Holy Spirit.
At each Faith Circles small group, members use the free weekly Faith Circles resource that contains the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading as well as a reflection on the Gospel (usually by Pope Francis) accompanied by questions for discussion and prayer points which faith groups are encouraged to to utilise. Group members share how the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading connects with their life and relationship with Jesus. Time is then given for small group sharing followed by prayer with, and for, one another. Through Faith Circles small groups, the parish ensures that all parishioners are known individually, loved, nurtured and cared for.
Parents Daniel & Leila Abdallah have created i4give Day as a remembrance to the four children that were tragically lost on 1 February 2020. This is to also help others who have suffered in a similar way. As well as this, it is a National day of forgiveness where you could find someone you can forgive or ask for forgiveness.
“Our four children are now our four saints and this day is for them. Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. The more you practice the better you become at it and it allows you to live peacefully and to heal. Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgiven.” Danny & Leila Abdallah.
You are encouraged to search your heart and find someone you can forgive on this day. Set them free and feel the freedom of forgiveness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is the charitable ministry of the Catholic Church. While home, hospital and prison visitations by members of the Society is its most notable activity, it also provides budget counselling, Compeer and Care of support for people with psychiatric disorders; disaster recovery and crisis relief; family care and support services; housing and homeless services; migrant, asylum and refugee services; learning and community services; Vinnies Centres (shops); and youth services and activities.
Members of the Society visit people in their homes to provide support, friendship and material assistance. This practice is known as home visitation, and is carried out by local St Vincent de Paul Society Conferences. There is a St Vincent de Paul Society Conference in this parish. Conferences are groups of people who respond to calls for assistance from people in the local community and work closely with the Society’s Centres of Charity, or ‘Opportunity Shops’.
People who are being assisted by conference members are often provided with food vouchers, furniture, clothing and household goods free of charge through the Society’s Centres of Charity. Centres also offer affordable clothing and goods to the wider community. The profit from the sale of stock from the Centres is used to provide resources and support to people in need.
Caritas has been committed to tackling poverty and inequality in Australia and overseas since 1964. When a crisis hits, Caritas works hand-in-hand with local communities and churches to bring aid and relief to people whose lives have been devastated by natural disaster or conflict.
Today Caritas serves in 18 countries, working with over 50 local partners in communities to bring hope, support and compassion to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Catholic Mission, as the Australian agency of the Pontifical Mission Society, contributes funding and provides project support to critical church-run initiatives in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America as well as remote dioceses within Australia. Catholic Mission creates opportunities for people to be formed in mission, and respond through prayer, fundraising and action, inspiring them to reach out, and give life—within Australia and around the world.
PALMS Australia believes enabling people to open their palms and reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion, nationality and gender will empower cooperation to achieve a just, sustainable, interdependent and peaceful world free of poverty.
Palms Australia believes communities are the best architects of their own development. They posses the contextual and cultural awareness that informs sustainable solutions to poverty. Development assistance must be provided at the request of, not imposed on, communities in need. This underpins the PALMD Australia international assignments program.
Priority is given to requests from vital grass-roots organisations, seeking sustainable solutions to poverty, based on community articulated goals and strategies. Relationships and skill development are prioritised ahead of the buildings, equipment, and goods that others offer as aid. Requests are met by recruiting qualified and experienced Australians to share their skills. They are thoroughly prepared and supported for authentic relationships and mutual development to build on existing strengths of the local community.
FAMILY & YOUTH
Youth Mission Team
YMT Australia is a national, Catholic youth organisation that has been operating throughout Australia for almost 35 years. YMT currently has teams based in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne ministering to approximately 18,000 students every year. Each team is comprised of young men and women who defer career or tertiary studies for 12 months to volunteer full-time.
The primary focus of YMT’s ministry is facilitating retreat and reflection day programs in high schools. YMT also run a range of follow up opportunities including youth groups, school holiday camps, conference days and seminars.
CathFamily is a website dedicated to assisting families in making the home the living heart of the church. The site is an innovative Catholic resource library for raising children in the Catholic faith. CathFamily provides a selection of activities, prayer rituals, crafts and recipes to assist parents and grandparents in being the first educators in faith for their children.
Catholic Healthcare is a trusted leading not-for-profit provider of residential aged care, home care, retirement living and healthcare reaching across the east coast of Australia. They have a history of providing care and support to people of all faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities for over 25 years.
Catholic Healthcare currently operates 41 residential aged care homes, 12 retirement living communities, 2 healthcare services and provides services to around 4,000 people in the community.
Notre Dame University
Notre Dame is a private Catholic University, extending from the West Coast of Australia in the City of Fremantle, to the North-West town of Broome and across the continent to the heart of Sydney.
Notre Dame University embraces the ancient and esteemed traditions of Catholic Universities in Europe, North America and 2,000 years of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. The University welcomes people of all faiths. As an academic community, we welcome open and rigorous enquiry, debate and discussion.
Notre Dame University has an enrolment of over 12,000 students and offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Our student experience, employment and graduate outcomes are among the very best in Australia.
Notre Dame University provides students with the theoretical knowledge and professional skills which will empower them to realise their potential, build interconnectedness with all peoples and willingly serve the community through active participation, engagement and reflection.
We have a powerful commitment to honouring the individual and recognise that each student is graced with their own gifts and talents. We believe that higher education should prepare students for a rich, fulfilling and reflective life, not just a career path.
Catholic Institute of Sydney
The CIS provides courses for those who are interested in theological and related studies, be it in a manner of formal studies, like those undertaken by candidates for ordination to the priesthood or permanent diaconate in the Catholic Church; or for various kinds of ministry in the Church or for personal enrichment.
The CIS offers courses leading to accredited awards in theology and philosophy. The awards offered by the Institute include the five-year STB (a Baccalaureate of Theology), the STL (a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, equivalent to a Master’s degree at a secular university) and the STD (a Doctorate in Sacred Theology).
A large number of full-time students are studying for ordination to priesthood in the Catholic Church. They come from a variety of dioceses and religious communities, both locally and internationally. Other students are currently, or will eventually, be engaged in some form of ministry in the Church. For students the experience of studying theology has contributed to a deepening of their faith.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Website is the homepage of the Catholic Church in Australia. The Catholic Church in Australia is served by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which is the permanent collegial assembly of the Bishops of Australia. The organisation and administration of the Catholic Church in Australia is explained in the ‘About’ section of the website. This includes information about dioceses, bishops, religious institutes, Church agencies, and Catholic groups, as well as their contact details.
For more than three years, the Church in Australia prepared for the celebration of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia. It was a journey of listening, dialogue and discernment which has provided the opportunity for all of us to explore the practice of ‘synodality’ and learn by doing. The Plenary is a Spirit-filled process of discernment and reflection as we explored together possible ways of re-casting ourselves, re-positioning ourselves, the Church in Australia, for our mission of becoming more fully a clear, unambiguous, and effective sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all people.
CathNews is a service of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and is the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia. CathNews has been Australia’s leading, faith-based electronic newsletter and website.
Visitors to the CathNews site are able to read the latest media releases and statements from dioceses, bishops, religious institutes, Church agencies, and Catholic groups across the Church in Australia.
Visitors are also able to view Online Mass streamed live on YouTube from the Parish of Our Lady of The Way, North Sydney & Lavender Bay. They also have access to the CathNews Joblist, the number one employment site for Catholic jobs in Australia.
The Catholic Australia Website has been created to be both informative and user-friendly, a first port of call if you want to know more about the Catholic faith, or the activities of the Church in Australia.
Catholic Enquiry Centre
The Catholic Enquiry Centre aims to provide enquirers with points they might like to consider as they seek to deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith, and then to refer them on to other resources that may be of use to them.
Up to 30 people a week contact The Catholic Enquiry Centre via phone or email with a wide variety of questions. A similar number contact the Centre each week to obtain copies of their resources. Such enquirers are able to receive a free copy of Call and Response: An introduction to the Catholic faith. Over the last 10 years thousands of copies of this book have been distributed.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Through the RCIA process people who wish to become Catholics are invited to enter into a journey of faith in Jesus Christ, a journey of discovery as they practice living life as a Catholic Christian.
The initiation of new members is a gradual process allowing enquirers time to grow in faith and become full participants of the Catholic community. The catechumenal journey or RCIA process is marked by three major liturgical rites. These rites act as key gateways along the way. Each major rite is preceded and followed by a period of maturing faith.
The first rite, Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, is where enquirers express and the Church accepts their intention to respond to God’s call and follow the way of Jesus Christ. The second rite, The Election or Enrolment of Names, is the rite during which the Church formally approves the catechumens’ readiness for the Sacraments of Initiation. The third rite, Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, is the most important of all rites because it is when the elect are fully incorporated into Christ and the Church by Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
BibleProject is a nonprofit ed-tech organization and animation studio that produces 100% free Bible videos, podcasts, blogs, classes, and educational Bible resources to help make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere.
FORMED provides Catholic content from more than 60 organisations to help parishes, families and individuals explore their faith anywhere. People have access to thousands of movies, children’s programs, ebooks, audio, parish programs and studies direct to your browser, mobile or connected device.
Shalom World is a 24-hour commercial free English language television channel that broadcasts spiritual and religious programs related to the Christian faith. The channel broadcasts Masses, documentaries, animations, music videos, concerts, conferences, events and other programs that are relevant to Catholics. The channel in different countries aims to provide a platform for local evangelisation and is tailored to the needs of the local culture. The aim of the channel is to support the pastoral efforts of the Church.
Shalom World originated from the Indian network Shalom Television, which started broadcasting in 2005 and promoted the work of local parishes as well as other faith-related programs in the Malayalam language. Shalom World, with its headquarters in the USA, was established nine years later to broadcast programs in English. It broadcasts 24/7 high-definition, Catholic content that is faith-filled, virtue-building, character-based, and family-friendly. On January 26, 2018, Shalom World was launched in Australia.
During COVID 19, the channel was used as a resource for people to attend masses through television. Mass with Pope Francis became the most viewed program.
Real + True
We believe the Catechism is not a textbook, a collection of ideas, or a set of rules. We believe the Catechism is the faithful echo of a God who wishes to reveal himself to us and desires us to respond. Our mission is to pass down and pass along the gift of our faith by creating beautiful, captivating, and relevant content inspired by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And we are making this content in multiple languages and accessible for free to people all over the world.
Our name is a reference to the real and true God. In Jesus, God is real. He is someone, not something. He’s a person who knows us and understands us. He walked this earth and showed us how to live and love. He is also the Truth, and his light guides our path and leads us to everlasting life.
The Chosen is a new free-to-view television program that creatively presents the life of Christ and his followers. The shows are of the highest quality and is receiving acclaim around the world across denominations. Season 1 is now available on Netflix. Seasons 1-3 are available through the Chosen app.
Catholics Come Home
The Catholics Come Home website is designed to assist lapsed Catholics who wish to return to Catholic faith and practices. A wide variety of help and resources is available to help lapsed Catholics rediscover the truth, wonder and mystery of the Catholic faith.
LOCAL RETREAT CENTRES
Hartzer Park – Bowral
Hartzer Park is a retreat and conference centre owned and managed by the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH). The Sisters are an international Congregation of women ministering and working in twenty-six countries around the world.
Hartzer Park offers guided retreats and Health and Wellbeing Retreats. As well, Weddings are held there and the chapel is able to hold 200 people. It is available for Catholic Weddings weekdays, and weekends throughout the year subject to availability.
St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre – Douglas Park
Note the retreat centre is currently closed for refurbishment through until early 2024.
St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre is able to provide directed and guided retreats. Extended retreats are also available as are day only bookings and prayer weekends. During retreat time, a member of the Retreat Team is available to accompany you, if you so wish (Spiritual Accompaniment).
A directed retreat is time spent in silence with your God. A Spiritual Director provides support to the retreatant to allow him/her to be sensitive to what God is doing and encourage you to follow God’s promptings. A directed retreat is usually eight days.
A guided retreat is a silent retreat with a morning presentation to help provide guidance for the retreatant. A time of coming aside to be with God, to listen to what God is saying in the depth of my being. Guided retreats are times of prayer and so much of each day is free for the retreatant to use for prayer. Guided retreats are usually 6 days thought his may vary depending on the purpose of the retreat.
Extended retreats include the 30 Days With a Mystic Retreat, the Month-long (32 days) Retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Life’s Journey Experience (30 Day Retreat) and the Life’s Healing Journey 9 Day Retreat.
The Abbey – Jamberoo
The Benedictine Nuns of Jamberoo are now offering online retreats. These include the following: Meet Me in the Middle (based on Charles Peguy’s Little Girl Hope from the book “The Portal of the Mystery of Hope”); Desert Wisdom for Daily Living (to explore and pray within the perennial wisdom tradition, through the lens of the wisdom teachings of Jesus and the wisdom he embodied, the teachings of the desert mothers and father and other early and late wisdom teachers); Remembering Holy Saturday (to explore the mystery of Holy Saturday, what it means to live in “in-between” times, liminal times and to give ourselves to the transformative work of the tomb and the possibilities of new life born out of a dying); Into A Strange Land – A Country Called Forgiveness (a 5-week retreat where participants walk the arduous and sometimes lonely journey from unforgiveness to forgiveness, the journey that has the possibility of leading to joy and peace of soul that remains elusive, until we are able to let go and forgive); Hospitality: A Versatile Charism (exploring, deepening and praying with the Benedictine charism of hospitality); and Leading Strings of Love (to know more about living the Benedictine Promises in the world today.
Mount Carmel Retreat Centre – Varroville
Mount Carmel Retreat Centre provides group retreats for school groups, church groups, corporate groups and special interest groups; personal retreats and Facilitated Carmelite Retreats. The property is home to the Discalced Carmelite friars who have a priory near the retreat house. Set on extensive grounds on the edge of the urban area of Sydney, it is close to the city, while providing an experience of peace and quiet. There is a large network of walking tracks that roam across the open fields and wooded areas of the large property. The former convent of the Carmelite Nuns is now also available for retreats. Managed by the Disciples of Jesus Community Youth Mission Team, the sisters of the Missionaries of God’s Love have a praying presence in Carmel House.
The Hermitage – Mittagong
The Hermitage offers retreats for those seeking some time in prayer. Accompaniment or Spiritual Direction is available for retreatants, or guests may choose to take some time for a private retreat. Spiritual accompaniment occurs when a person walks the faith journey with another person in a safe and confidential setting. The spiritual companion respectfully holds a space for the other to explore their relationship with God.
In addition to the retreat and spirituality programs facilitated and presented by various church groups and other organisations, a number of Marist programs are conducted at The Hermitage each year by the Marist Mission and Life Team. One is the Care for the Soul Retreat. This retreat offers participants a quiet and reflective space away from the busy nature of daily life. A variety of input, prayer experiences, spiritual accompaniment and silence is offered during the retreat. This retreat is an ideal place to start if you have never experienced a silent retreat. The Eucharist is celebrated on the final day of this retreat.