SPEC Retreat Centre Update

The corona virus pandemic and subsequent lockdown period effectively curtailed the SPEC Retreat Centre’s ability to lead retreats for young people from schools and parishes across the Diocese.

All retreats have had to been cancelled for the rest of 2020; and early feedback from schools and parishes indicates that retreats are unlikely to be requested before the spring of 2021 at the earliest.

The spiritual needs of our young people remain at the heart of the mission of Westminster Youth Ministry. The SPEC Retreat Centre has responded to this altered situation by offering:

(a) an online retreat programme, which is currently being developed and, from September 2020,

(b) small-group retreats in schools around the diocese as well as:

(c) day retreats at the SPEC Retreat Centre in Pinner.

We look forward to welcoming young people once again for residential retreats at the Centre on a regular basis once government health guidance permits schools and parishes to request this.

This new situation and the necessarily altered way of working means that from this academic year there will be no resident community and no resident retreat staff team at the Centre. Instead, the Westminster Youth Ministry Outreach Team and a newly-created Diocesan Youth Worker Network will continue the good work achieved by the SPEC team over a significant number of years. This new, altered structure will remain in place until residential retreats resume at the SPEC Retreat Centre and new permanent retreat leaders are appointed. Meanwhile, we aim to build up the continuing SPEC community through our newly created Leadership Programme. We hope to start this programme from September this year.

We would like to thank all the volunteer missionaries who have served at SPEC over the past 27 years – for all you have given to this mission through your faithful witness, and for the countless ways that you have been a blessing to this ministry, this city and this diocese. An enormous thanks, also, to all of the retreat staff who have poured so much love, dedication and zeal into SPEC since the beginning.

These changes imposed by the pandemic are regrettable but we are confident that the new structures we are putting in place will enable Westminster Youth Ministry to continue to retain a central role in the lives of so many young people across the Diocese. The SPEC Retreat Centre continues, but in a different way. All contact details remain the same and we will be sending regular updates on developments at SPEC.

We pray that we be allowed soon to welcome young people once more to enjoy at Pinner the residential retreats which are at the heart of SPEC’s mission.

Andrzej Wdowiak

Diocese of Westminster Youth Ministry