Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 70(2) May 2020
Hope in Health Advent Retreat, 6th-8th December 2019.
This year’s theme was ‘Children and Health’. Our two speakers were Dr John Roper, a consultant paediatrician based in St Helen’s, who also has many years’ experience of taking handicapped children to Lourdes, and Sr Maureen O’Driscoll, a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph and a Registered General Nurse and Children's Nurse who works for Francis House Children's Hospice and Francis House Families in Manchester. John used the lens ‘the individual and God’, and especially Psalm 139, to explore both the spirituality of sick children, and ourselves as children in relation to God. He also made some thought-provoking comments on the importance of proper parental authority. Sr Maureen told us the inspiring story of the origins and development of Francis House Hospice by her order, in response to a strongly felt need. Now they care not only for children, but also for young adults and beyond, as with medical assistance young people live many years longer with disabling illnesses. The weekend included shared prayer and social time, as always; this year’s film showed Gregory Peck as Fr Francis Chisholm, a missionary in China, in ‘The Keys to the Kingdom’, which appropriately includes a key twist in the plot involving a sick child. Once again it was lovely to welcome old friends and new, healthcare professionals and other friends, to our Advent weekend of reflection. Next year’s theme will be ‘Families and Carers’ (4th-6th December). The weekend will be open to anyone interested.