On the 13th of this month twelve Protestant and eight Catholic clergy met for three days in a Catholic Retreat House to promote Christian unity. Written up in one of the secular papers a few days ago, this second retreat was held in the Kwangju Retreat Center at the base of Mount Jiri. The first retreat, at the invitation of the Protestants, was held last year at the Benedict Meditation Center in Pusan.Since 2000, Catholic and Protestant clergy have been meeting for lectures and discussion but last year they met for the first time for a retreat. Also present was the president of the Bishops Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue, Bishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong.
During the three days, they had six meetings for meditation and prayer in silence. It was time, they agreed, to experience their brotherly relationship rather than talk about what separates them. The first sermon was given by an Anglican priest. And a priest from the Kwangju Seminary gave a lecture on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. A Presbyterian minister said, "Last year at the retreat house in Pusan, I was deeply moved during the common retreat. I became familiar again with some of the religious exercises that we Protestants have lost. It is a time to reflect on our common religious tradition and our personal commitment to our faith.
They visited a Buddhist Temple, a 5-minute walk from the retreat center, where they heard a lecture on Buddhist ascetic practices.
An Anglican priest said there have been big changes in the atmosphere of the meetings. It is now very rare to see any open disparaging of the other in our meetings.
The day ended with the praying of the Holy Office. In the beginning it was difficult but with the directions given by the leader of the prayer everything turned out correctly. In one of the prayer gatherings, one of the participants said, "During our meetings many words have been used but we have to hear God's word. We have to get over divisions and conflict, and come closer together and have a meeting of hearts."