The Noddfa Reports - October 2012

Two members of the party from the United Benefice give us their impressions of the recent parishes weekend in North Wales.

Looking back on our recent Parish weekend away at Noddfa I am moved to wonder why more people who are able to remove themselves for a weekend such as this don't do so... Granted, we were fortunate in so many ways. The weather was perfect - glorious sunshine and clear blue skies - and we found ourselves in an imposing Victorian house, standing at the foot of Penmaenmawr. The grounds are beautiful: big green lawns sloping down from the terrace and great trees at this time of the year rich in autumn gold and russet. There was a squirrel too! - grey, alas.
The house  was  as  warm as our welcome, and hospitality immediate - welcome cups of tea or coffee to greet us  and biscuits too! Indeed, the food throughout our stay was plentiful and satisfying.
On the first day and each day following, Fr Colin Oxenforth  led us through various spiritual exercises and reflections (as challenging as one cared to make them) and played some beautiful music to help us to settle. As we might have expected, he spiced his own thoughtful comments with his now familiar humour! -that lightened the atmosphere, and saved us ,mercifully, I think, from becoming too intense! There was Mass on Saturday and Sunday and we ended each day quietly by saying Compline together.There was time too for own quiet space, and time for plenty of good company,time to read,  time for a walk up the road or down to the village, time too for a gentle siesta! That was the secret...there was TIME!
We are told that Noddfa is a word meaning " refuge" or " shelter". For me the weekend will be remembered as a time of enjoyable company and quiet spiritual contentment, free of care.Thank you for that, my friends - and Colin and Denise.

Margaret Davies

This year's parish weekend took place 12th -14th October at Noddfa, a large Victorian house near the North Wales coastal village of Penmaenmawr, just past Conway.  Organised by Revd Denise and led by Colin Oxenforth, a mixed bunch of 14 cheerful and willing participants from both parishes enjoyed our weekend together in a very friendly atmosphere.
We stayed at Noddfa - this is a Welsh word meaning haven, or refuge, very appropriate for a retreat house. It is run by the same order of nuns that ran Seafield Convent, here in Crosby, before  the advent of Sacred Heart High School. The sisters looked after us splendidly. The rooms were warm and cosy, the beds were comfortable, the food was tasty and plentiful.  The house is in a spectacular setting on the side of a small mountain, set in beautiful grounds with enormous trees and wonderful views across the sea to the Great Orme. The house was originally built by a relative of W. E. Gladstone and then bought by the Owen Owen family as a holiday home. It now has many more bathrooms and a purpose built chapel that we were blessed to use for our Eucharist.
Our weekend was led by Colin in a series of thought-provoking sessions often using questions requiring a diagrammatic answer to get behind our stock responses, thus learning more about our deeper thoughts. Several people were interested to find our view of the memories of our experiences thus took on a different emphasis, and questions were raised resulting in new points of view. With the help of moving music we explored our relationship with God, and explored joy - past, present, and future.
This was a time of rest, review and refreshment. All in all a very spiritually rewarding weekend - do come with us next year !
Cynthia Johnson

For the record... the original invitation!

Parishes Weekend at Noddfa
12th - 14th October 2012 

A Parishes Weekend in the beautiful and peaceful centre – Noddfa - situated in North Wales, is planned for Friday 12th - Sunday 14th October, 2012. You can read more about the place and see pictures at


Noddfa is a Welsh word meaning haven or refuge - a place of peace and welcome a place where you can regain energy. It is the name of the centre run by the sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Penmaenmawr, on the North Walescoast.
Fr. Colin Oxenforth (who has recently retired to the Waterloo area where he grew up) will lead the weekend which will include liturgy, Bible studies, space for personal prayer, a free Saturday afternoon and a less-serious ‘after dinner talk’ (Fr. Colin recently gave a talk to the Barbara Pym Society!) and, needless to say, plenty of time to socialise..!
Noddfa is well situated for visiting the spectacular Snowdonia National Park, the historic town of Conwy and its castle, the seaside town of Llandudno, Anglesey and many more places of interest.
At Noddfa there is not just one garden, but many different gardens joined harmoniously into an oasis of peace in the middle of a bustling world. Near the house are the more formal gardens with flower beds, lawns and tree-shaded paths. Behind the buildings are shrub gardens that blend naturally into the woodland that spreads away towards the mountain. On the edge of the woodland there are vegetable gardens, that supply some of the food for the house, and an orchard.
You can play croquet on the lawn, sit and gaze at the fountain, wander the paths that meander through the woods, or just relax on an easy chair. Splashes of colour abound around the grounds at the moment.
We invite you to come and walk one of our 2 labyrinths. In walking the labyrinth, you simply follow the path to the centre. There are no choices to make and you do not get lost. At the centre, you can stop and reflect and then you turn around and retrace your steps.
The return is as important as going in and what you experience at the centre. As well as our grass labyrinth, we have another labyrinth, originally designed and made for us by the Prince's Trust, with beautifully scented lavender bushes. This has recently been renewed with golden coloured stones, which make for easier upkeep and are very attractive.
There is a limit of 25 (or a few more if couples come along) for this so please let Geoff Dunn (0151 928 9913)know as soon as possible if you are interested. The cost is likely to be in the region of £50 per person per night (full board) plus the travel costs.


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