FIRST MET FR PIUS MARY NOONAN when my mother talked me into a retreat at Hartzer Park. It was in a rare year when I didn’t have a baby needing me around the clock and it had been years since I had last made a retreat. I’m glad I did.
The two priests had come from France to Australia conducting retreats about every two years. At first they just gave week long men’s retreats, but they bowed to pressure and introduced shorter retreats for ladies. These were silent retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, with a Benedictine flavor. They were very popular and often booked out early.
Fr Pius has a surprising American accent and hails from Kentucky, though it’s hard to imagine him as anything but a Benedictine monk. He has a fire for God – indeed he publishes a monthly spiritual newsletter entitled “Afire” which begins with:
JESUS MARIA JOSEPH
I am come to cast fire on the earth,
and what will I, but that it be kindled?
And the fire is spreading! The demand for retreats developed into demand for pursuing religious vocations and Archbishop Porteous invited the order to Tasmania where they have received new postulants and continued to grow despite living in fairly temporary accommodation.
Their webpage has much more information including past newsletters. Recently they have found a fantastic property which seems like the answer to their prayers and need to raise $3.2 million quickly. More information Notre Dame Priory, Tasmania.