• Toni

Tree of life at the heart of our retreat

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

On Saturday 26th October 2019 a parish retreat was held at St Joseph’s Hall in Port Melbourne. This was a spiritually enriching day where 16 of us from the parish came together to reflect, talk, listen, share, collaborate, meditate, delve and reach into our inner selves.


Fr John facilitated the retreat’s activities with the help of Christine Mitchell, our Pastoral Associate. After our usual introductions, Fr John began the day’s proceedings telling us about his recent visit to Christchurch New Zealand. He spoke of a wonderful mural project called, “The Grove of Intention” located near the Christchurch transitional cathedral. The Grove of Intention is a series of seven graphic trees painted in metallic gold on a dark blue background. Each tree has a specific title and an inquiry which the artists who created them have been asking members of the public to respond to in a one-word answer on a paper leaf. There were many themed trees such as The Wish Tree, The Peace Tree, The Well-being Tree, The Connection Tree, The Wisdom Tree, The Witness Tree and The Gratitude Tree. The one that attracted John was the Connection Tree and it asked the question: Where in Christchurch is your favourite place of conversation? The public responses on the leaves of the tree inspired John to think about the parish and our own individual connection to one another. The Connection Tree became the impetus for many of our retreat activities.

Fr John asked us to contemplate the photographic image of an expansive tree which he projected and invited us to share our observations. The image aroused much discussion. The metaphor of a tree was a focal point for our day’s endeavours.


We looked at some big questions individually, then split into pairs to discuss / share our responses. The questions varied and included ones such as: