A 'retreat with a difference' is just one description of Mariapolis 2017, taking place in the beautiful setting of Ampleforth College from 7-11th April. Alternatively, a temporary town built on the gospel, a unique kind of holiday and 'a challenge' would all fit.
Mariapolis is an annual gathering organised by the Focolare Movement. This year's theme of 'Jesus crucified and forsaken, the God of our times', will be explored through input, shared reflection and dialogue.
Held over the Palm Sunday weekend, Mariapolis 2017 will also offer opportunities for those who wish to join the prayer of the Benedictine community at Ampleforth Abbey. At the same time, the ecumenical nature of the Mariapolis will provide a tangible witness to the possibility of dialogue and unity as we journey towards Easter.
Participants from all over Britain will also have the chance to relax, and enjoy the stunning North Yorkshire countryside. The programme is varied and caters for all ages - families and young people, as well as those who wish to come on their own.
So what's 'the difference'? One of the organisers, Helen Copeland, said "Many of us know the importance of taking time out of our busy lives to re-focus on God and what He is doing in our lives. However, that doesn't mean we have to close ourselves off from one another. Mariapolis (meaning City of Mary) is where we experience God's presence by trying to put his words into practice - by loving our neighbour. And anyone can do this - children, the elderly, families, and those in religious life".
Bookings are now open. Day visitors are also welcome. For further details contact Helen Copeland on firstname.lastname@example.org or see more information at: www.focolare.org/gb