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Large Catholic Multi-Academy Trust hosts first spiritual retreat with Ampleforth Abbey Monks

Large Catholic Multi-Academy Trust hosts first spiritual retreat with Ampleforth Abbey Monks

Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust (BWCET) were extremely pleased with the reception from their first head teacher retreat – so much so that they are looking to bring it back for 2023. 

Created to be an opportunity for reflection and spiritual development, the retreat welcomed 26 head and deputy head teachers to Ampleforth Abbey in York. Due to the warm hospitality of the Benedictine monks who reside in the monastery within the Abbey, the teachers were able to relax and reflect on their role as leaders of Catholic schools. Guests were also invited to join the community of monks in the beautiful Abbey for their traditional prayer services.

Raymond Friel, Chief Executive of Caritas Social Action Network, led the retreat with a focus on leading for the common good and a greater understanding of a leaders’ wider responsibility to society. Raymond also emphasised the need for all leaders to take time away from the daily challenges of their role in order to reflect on their own spiritual development. 

Barbara Reilly-O’Donnell, Director of Ethos, Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust, explains what was achieved by the experience:

“The retreat was a really important time for the teachers to get together and discuss the true purpose of school. Successful schools focus on the holistic development of pupils, understanding that success is far greater than exam results. Leaders benefitted from this opportunity to consider how this can be lived out. It was also a vital opportunity for leaders to reflect on the ways they can support the staff in their schools to promote true virtue.

“To encourage senior leadership collaboration, Raymond led conference activities alongside the monks. These activities were ultimately to relax, promote discussion and allow the teachers to take a step back from education,” Barbara continues. 

“Our first ever head teacher retreat proved extremely beneficial to all the teachers, it allowed our very hard-working staff an opportunity to reflect and relax. We are really proud of our Director of Ethos, Barbara, who organised the whole retreat. We want to organise another next year and we can’t wait to see everyone again,” says Trust CEO, OBE Nick Hurn who also attended the retreat.

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