DAMASCUS HOUSE takes its name from the experience of St Paul who came to know Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. The staff of the house try to help people to ask "Who are you, Lord?" and "Lord, what will you have me to do?".
We attempt to serve the life of the church through its parishes, deaneries and other groupings. Parish groups come for a day or weekend; deaneries have their meetings here and the Damascus House staff give Parish Missions.
Situated in pleasant pastoral surroundings Damascus House has welcomed thousands of people since it first opened its doors in 1972.
Those who come to us include schoolboys and girls for day and residential retreats organised through their schools; married and single folk involved in the Marriage Encounter weekends, Choice weekends and our, Open, Weekend retreats; and also clergy and religious to participate in preched retreats.
All are welcome to spend time, to pray, to discuss and to relax in a peaceful atmosphere. The staff comprises Vincentian priests, Daughters of Charity and lay people.
Throughout the year we organise various seminars and workshops including updating courses on development in ecumenism, parish and pastoral ministry, spiritual direction and, new for us this year, a mid-life retreat/workshop. On the retreat side we find there is a need for specialising, for example, retreats for the bereaved, for those involved in alcoholic problems and oneparent weekends which involve the children as well as the parent. We also find a growing demand in private directed retreats.
As well as scheduled groups we also welcome private individuals who want to relax quietly for a few days and take the opportunity to read, reflect, pray or discuss with one of the staff.
Retreats today vary a lot. They are very much tailored to the requirements of the "client". Some people like to be part of a group, listening to three or four talks during the day with time in between to think and pray, or chat.
Other people like to be alone; they come for a half-day, a day, a week. Others like to talk with a priest about their particular needs. The possibilities arc endless. What all retreats have in common are time and space to stop and think — about whatever it is you want to think about.
Many retreat "because they feel tried, or confused", or want to make a decision. Instead of a rather outward life they face up to some questions: "am I really happy?", "is my life the kind of life I want to live?", "what can 1 do to change the things in my life that need changing?", and so on.
Others observe God and their relationship with God.
We can accommodate up to 70 people, but because we have two large dining rooms and numerous small meeting room/lounges besides our two main conference rooms, we are still able to maintain a tranquil atmosphere. A bookshop on the ground floor offers a wide range of popular religious material and the library has recently been re-stocked.
All visitors are very welcome to join the Community for the morning and evening prayer as well as the daily Mass.