I went on retreat this week to Palazzola, near Rome. It is a former Franciscan monastery acquired by the Venerable English College in Rome almost a century ago. Their seminarians use it for part of the year, when the heat of Rome is at its height. Palazzola is sited above a crater lake opposite Castel Gandolfo, which used to be the summer residence of the popes.
I was invited to participate by the Episcopal Church in Europe.This was my second time on retreat with them; the first was last summer in Vienna. They generously pay travel and accommodation costs, which is another gift to us, apart from the annual grant that we receive.
The theme of the retreat was preaching and we used a book of sermons by the Anglican theologian Austin Farrer as a course book. Sharing insights about preaching with others from diverse backgrounds was very enlightening; we had much to learn from each other.
This was also the occasion for us as clergy to say goodbye to Bishop Pierre Whalon, who has been the bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe since his election in 2001. We will go to Paris to a farewell service and to see his successor, Mark Edington, consecrated and installed at the beginning of April.