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Ilkley's Briery retreat in celebrates its 60th anniversary
A tranquil corner of Ilkley is marking 60 years of offering a place of spiritual renewal to hundreds of visitors from all over the country and overseas.
Briery Retreat and Conference Centre in Victoria Avenue welcomes visitors of all Christian denominations to weekend and preached retreats throughout the year.
It also provides a conference venue for many religious and charitable organisations, with its own accommodation on site plus a self-catering cottage.
The Briery recently played host to a large group of schoolgirls from Argentina and their teachers.
Set within its own leafy grounds, the retreat is run by the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, a Roman Catholic religious institute founded in Manchester in the 1800s.
The Briery itself was originally one of Ilkley’s fine private houses, set within its own expansive gardens. It was built by Bradford wool merchant Sydney Kellett, who later bought Ilkley’s historic Myddelton Lodge.
The Sisters of the Cross and Passion bought the house in February 1952, and at the request of John Carmel Heenan, Bishop of Leeds, turned it into a retreat centre for girls and women.
This complemented the role of the Passionist Retreat House for boys and men at Myddelton Lodge.
The year was a key one for the order itself, marking its centenary.
Today, The Briery welcomes both male and female visitors, offering an atmosphere of love, prayer, healing and peace.
“There is some relaxation, guided meditation, and there might be some sessions on self-esteem,” said Sister Anne Hammersley, one of three Sisters who run the centre, supported by more than ten employees. As well as weekend retreats, The Briery runs a programme of six-day preached retreats through the year. This year’s topics range from Mission and Discipleshop Today to Spiritual Empowerment for our Changing Times.
A book of memories and appreciation of The Briery’s 60 years has been written, and a celebration mass will take place on Saturday at the Passionist Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.