35 Seymour Road,East Molesey
- Sisters of Christian Retreat
The Christian Retreat was founded by Father Anthony Sylvester Receveur (1750-1804). Fr Anthony was born in 1750 in Bonnetage, a little village in Northeast France, and his life was spent in the shadow of the French Revolution. It was a time of huge social upheaval, transition and violence. In 1776, Fr Anthony was appointed parish priest of Fontenelles, and he preached – like thunder, some said – about the importance of meditation, retreat, and reflection as essential to religious and lay Christian life. Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, Fr Anthony gave retreats in the towns of the ‘plateau’ of the Franche-Comte, accompanying thousands of ordinary men, women and children. He wrote letters to those who had made retreats, writing to his ‘dear associates’ words of encouragement in the spiritual journey.
The number of followers around Fr Anthony grew. On the night of 18th November 1789, Father Anthony went round the village knocking on the doors of his followers, saying: ‘Come, this is God’s hour’. Under the safe cover of darkness, men, women and children followed Fr. Anthony in freezing conditions to reach their nearly-built retreat house in Les Fontenelles. On entry they went to the chapel, knelt, and with arms outstretched said five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys and sung the Te Deum. On the morning of the 19th November 1789, the bell from the Chapel rang out across the village of Les Fontenelles to announce that the Christian Retreat had been born.