From the 5th to the 10th of September Dominican nuns from the region of Europe which is outside Italy, France and Spain met at a Vincentian retreat centre at Krzeszowice near Krakow.  We came from the monasteries of Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Vilnius, Oslo, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal (Fatima) and Srs Mairead and Breda from our community in Drogheda.  fr Brian Pierce OP the promoter for the Dominican  nuns was present throughout the meeting.  fr Viktor Hofstetter OP, a former promoter gave some of the conferences and fr Józef Zborzil, Promotor of the Nuns in Poland, fr Krzysztof Popławski, the Polish Provincial were present as invited guests and for the last two days we were privileged to have fr Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order with us – we greatly appreciated the fact that fr Bruno interrupted his work in S Sabina, Rome in order to come to share these days with us.

This is the third such meeting in recent years – the first being in Prague in 2005 and the second in Sthrhlfeld, Germany in 2008. Our biggest problem in this region is the language barrier but we had an excellent group of Dominican brothers and sisters who provided us with simultaneous translation.  One sister suggested that we spoke four languages – Polish, English, German and the language of the heart!  The liturgy was celebrated in a different language each day and we ended the day with a silent Eucharistic Hour.
 
 
Nodoubt this beautifully refurbished retreat centre was an ideal setting for our meeting – with the possiblity for walks on the grounds and in a nearby wooded park and along a river bank.  Of course the beatiful sunshine and warm weather was an added bonus for us coming from Ireland where we have been waiting for summer since last June but it never arrived!!!
 
The theme of the meeting was ‘Obedience and Freedom’- we were fortunate that all the conferences were in English.  fr Bruno’s input was encouraging and inspiring as he presented his vision of the place of the nuns at the heart of the Order – a life centred on the Word of God – a life given for the mission of the Order – to preach and bear witness to the coming down among us of God’s Son to the people He loves.
 
We had discussions in language groups with some plenary sessions as well as informal gatherings during free time. We spoke about how we can care for our elderly sisters and how to provide a good formation for the young women who join us. It is encouraging that while a number of monasteries in our region have closed in recent years others are receiving vocations again after a gap of several years. 
 
On Saturday evening we were treated to a festive supper followed by song and dance and lots of fun.
 
After lunch on Sunday we went by bus to the shrine of Divine Mercy and afterwards to the Dominican Priory where we received a most interesting talk about the history of the Domincans in this very house for almost 800 years – we then joined the brothers for Vespers followed by supper. The following morning it was time to say our good-byes promising to keep in contact with each other.