At the end of May, Castlerigg will be hosting its annual family weekend. Each year families of all ages, shapes and sizes come together, many not knowing each other, but all blessed abundantly by the experience. Here, Margaret recounts her experience from last year:

Brought up a "good Catholic", I had striven all my life to do what was "right" and had arrived, unexpectedly, in the last couple of years, at a place where my efforts seemed exhausted. Current demands seemed to be outstripping supplies! How I needed to be re-sourced, actively put back in touch with the Source of it all. It being Pentecost weekend, I hoped for us all to experience the gifts of the Spirit.

Wisdom was imparted in many ways, for me notably in the form of the quality of insight and resources offered by the team at Castlerigg - and that shared among the adult participants as we ministered to each other through some (amazingly similar) stories and experiences told into the wee hours.

Understanding broke among us at so many different levels. Without doubt the children and young people intuitively came to a much deeper understanding of what faith is, especially during prayer services, most particularly the Eucharist. This was because of the tangible demonstration then of a depth of faith one just cannot put into words. And generally, all activities, from biscuit-decorating to dramatising the Gospel, linked the whole of creation to godliness in a way that I think reached everyone - with a perfect balance of fun and solemnity. That is why we go to Castlerigg - for its relaxed yet unequivocally Catholic approach to building faith of our children (aged 12, 14 and 16.) But I did not expect it to deepen mine this year. Throughout the weekend we were counselled and counselled each other - formally in the sacrament of reconciliation - and informally in an atmosphere made conducive to this: the programme so well balanced between "together time", sessions and breaks, where informal mingling saw near-sacramental encounters between us at times.

Essential to this was the incredible level of practical hospitality! Tea and coffee on tap, excellent food and fantastic weather combined with consistent cheery willingness to help on the part of all staff. And the new showers at the Manor were great! You felt that you could really let go of the usual weekend family responsibilities. Therein lies one source of the fortitude of Castlerigg - a kind of understated strength on the part of all staff, working together as a team.

Piety is such a rare quality now, but the team at Castlerigg exemplify this gift; it seems to be the "glue" bonding the team. It simply shines out of all members. This more than anything replenished my faith this weekend. I feel that the "spiritual bar" in our family has been reset. A sense of wonder and awe at God is restored in me.

Since the retreat I have consciously tried to spend some time each day in stillness, appreciating the fact that I am so loved by God, by Jesus. To give out love I have to experience it poured into my heart each day. It's so easy to become blinded by daily demands to the point I fail to recognise this love in action. At Castlerigg, it surrounded us, penetrating my "fog of exhaustion"!

"Receive the Holy Spirit" - the theme of the weekend - was made a reality in many ways at this family retreat, far exceeding my already high expectations. The level of giving throughout our time together seemed to me to make it almost impossible not to "receive"! It was all there was left to do! Grateful thanks to all in the "Castlerigg family" for sending us home replenished in all senses

Margaret Johnston

The next family weekend is on 27 - 29 May 2016. To book, or to gain more information please visit: