The Parent Retreat at St Lucy’s School, Wahroonga is designed to assist the school in meeting the spiritual needs of parents and provide them with an opportunity for renewal.

Summary of Learnings

Early in 2011, Ms Virginia Ryan initiated a conversation with Mrs Jo Karaolis, Principal of St Lucy’s School, about how the CSO Mission Services could assist the school in meeting the spiritual needs of parents.

It was decided that a retreat morning would be an ideal way to provide this opportunity for renewal.

The retreat was carefully designed to meet the specific needs of these parents.

The design of the retreat followed a meeting with parents facilitated by the Principal and Ms Virginia Ryan. It became clear that parents wanted and felt they really needed a morning ‘free of care’ because they were overwhelmed by the yolk of constant care of children with demanding care needs.

The program was designed very carefully for these parents, whom the principal believed were ‘running on empty’. When consulted the parents themselves articulated their great need to find a way to deal with ‘grief’ or more aptly ‘chronic grief’.

Bishop David Walker welcomed all participants and blessed them and their families.

The retreat was developed to suit the specific needs of this parent group. The design of the day incorporated a long breakfast because this group felt that they missed out on chatting time with other adults and their spouse.

The retreat was held on a Saturday because it provided an opportunity for both parents to attend and adult time for these parents was severely limited. The timing for these families worked very well as they felt it was a quiet stop before the anxiety and stress of Christmas. Approximately 40 adults attended the retreat morning.

To successfully run the retreat required the co-operation of many people, which was one of the gifts of the event. St Lucy’s designed the flyer with all relevant information and distributed amongst the parents.

Staff were asked and generously agreed to work on the Saturday to supervise about 50 children, which included students of St Lucy’s and their siblings.

Volunteers were called for and responded to assist with serving breakfast and morning tea.

Year 6 students from Prouille Catholic Primary school were asked to be ‘buddies’ to assist with the supervision of students and other children on the morning. The retreat was led by Fr David Ranson, the Administrator of Holy Family Parish at Wahroonga.

Father Ranson had the capacity and ability to connect with the parents and had an established relationship with them through the family masses at St Lucy’s.

He was sensitive to their struggle and he shared with them an understanding of Christian hope. He recognised that they were true living saints.

The event was such a success due to the careful listening to the needs of parents and the co-operation of many people in the school and parish community.

Mrs Jo Karaolis received very positive feedback from parents and has arranged for another retreat in June led by Fr David Ranson.

Summary of Learnings

  • A retreat morning was conducted to meet the specific needs of parents of children with a disability.
  • Parents were consulted about the content and format of the morning, parents requested that the focus of the retreat be “grief” , and that they have the opportunity for a breakfast


  • Staff supported the morning offering babysitting for about 50 children
  • Volunteers from the local Catholic School and Parish provided the breakfast

Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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