I had a hard time locating our house on Macau island to start the retreat. The taxi driver had dropped me on the street but I had difficulty finding number 43. It was a non-descript entry to an apartment building where the community is situated on the first floor with about six rooms, a kitchen and dining space, a common space. Very crowded for north Americans. It made do for the three days prior to the retreat for me to work out the 13 hour time difference. The community consists of 9 members right now with a tenth one to come from Vietnam in the near future.
All but three of the members are still in the language mode. They are studying Mandarin and Cantonese. Difficult as the language is, the members seem to be fascinated by the characters of Mandarin and Cantonese. Cantonese is the language of Hong Kong and Macau. It is fascinating for a first-time visitor to understand how a pictogram figure becomes a sound but even more so to learn how the character is formed by images. Fr. Stan from Poland showed me his book with Mandarin characters and the lengthy explanation of the images in the character. I had called the retreat “Open Heart” and I found the Mandarin character that translated open heart: 開心.
The retreat began on one of the islands of Macau on January 15. It was an eight day silent retreat with nine participants. I used the format of the North American Retreat held in Mississauga in August, except that this retreat was three days longer. To the topics of the Mississauga retreat I added three other topics: the Sacred Heart as a devotion, mercy as a Dehonian theme and Eucharist. The retreat house belonged to the diocese of Macau and was run by a consecrated lay group. It was beautifully located on a bay separating Macau from the mainland. The hills nearby gave great opportunity for the more adventuresome to walk its beautiful paths which gave wonderful vistas of the island and the beaches.