The Isle of Man has a rich Christian heritage: keeills and carved crosses; Saints Maughold, Ninian and Bridget; Rushen Abbey; Bishop Wilson; the Triskelion Way pilgrimage route and, more recently, the unique development of the Cathedral Gardens. We enjoy breath-taking scenery, peace and tranquility, remote beaches, dark skies. Yet strangely, the Island has been without a Christian retreat house, to serve the people of the Island, and offer a haven for visitors making their own pilgrimage.
BUT THAT’S SET TO CHANGE
Many will remember Ballawattleworth House in Peel from its years as a residential home for older people. Following its closure, Dave and Lizzie McLean bought it and transformed it into a family home. More recently, they started to think about downsizing, and a possible future use for their much-loved home. Inspired by their own Christian faith, they shared with a few friends their growing wish that the house could somehow be used for God’s purposes.
Unknown to Dave and Lizzie, those friends were part of a small group of people from various Island churches who - for many years - had been praying for a way to establish a retreat house on the Island. They believed that, if it was God’s will, it would happen one day. Over the years, various ideas were suggested and explored - all were potentially good, but eventually proved unsuitable.
But everything changed when the group made contact with the McLeans.
Dave and Lizzie felt that their wishes for their home matched perfectly with the intentions of their friends, so after much prayer, thought and discussion, they generously allowed their home to become - a retreat house!
Ballawattleworth House stands in its own grounds, and is perfectly suited to offering residential and non-residential retreats, having ground floor rooms of various sizes, perfect for small or larger groups, plus cosy, comfortable bedrooms. It’s just round the corner from the Cathedral - it’s within walking distance of the heart of Peel, and offers easy access to glorious walks, as well as excellent links with public transport.
THE DREAM BECOMES A REALITY
The house has been re-named THIE DY VEA meaning House of Life in Manx Gaelic - a place underpinned by strong Christian principals, welcoming people of all faiths and no faith. Jesus spoke of people finding life in abundance in Him, and it is our prayer that THIE DY VEA will be a place where everyone who visits will find more of that life.
It will be run largely by volunteers, and whilst there will be a couple of people with leadership roles appropriate to their particular gifts, everyone who offers their services will become a part of the THIE DY VEA COMMUNITY- not a 'new movement' - just a desire to live and work in the spirit of the Early Church - sharing equally together, and serving the community.
We will offer a place where everyone is able to take a step back from the routines and pressures of daily life - either individually or as part of a group, with or without direction from a guide or leader - a place to discern the spiritual presence in your life - a place to listen for, and to, the promptings of God, in an atmosphere of peace and acceptance. The life of THIE DY VEA will be supported by a cycle of daily prayer, led by members of the THIE DY VEA COMMUNITY, in which visitors are welcome to share, if they wish.
WILL YOU JOIN US ON THE JOURNEY?
It was whilst a group of people were on a journey of faith that THIE DY VEA was discovered, and took its first tentative steps. In those early days, we found others keen to join us on the journey.
Rev’d David Shirtliff and Mrs Judy Cannan have made a commitment to lead the establishment of the House. David is a Methodist minister who has served churches for over twenty years, sixteen of those here on the Island. Judy is an Anglican Reader and brings with her a wealth of experience of setting up and running a retreat house. David has now stepped back from local church life, and has permission to develop this new expression of his ministry, full time.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
The house has been well-maintained and is in excellent overall condition. The McLeans are also leaving a considerable amount of their own furniture - as well as helping to retain the characterful and relaxed atmosphere of the house, this represents a huge financial saving for the new venture!
However, there are things we have to do immediately, to be legally correct, to make the property fully suitable for its new life, and to make it completely safe for public use. All the necessary permissions have now been granted, working in co-operation with the Fire Officer, Building Regulations and Highways Dept etc., including permission for some internal changes - to provide a ground-floor suite for guests with disabilities, a small flat for a live-in member of the Thie Dy Vea Community, en-suite facilities for some bedrooms, plus external groundworks to provide more off-street parking.
Now we’re setting up a Charitable Trust, and inviting donations towards the cost of those essential works, and other one-off set-up costs.
We hope to start this work very soon, allowing the house to open for local guests, sometime in autumn 2020.
YOUR LEVEL OF INTEREST
I want to be INFORMED - I’m happy for my address (email or postal) to be on your database and to receive general information about the progress of THIE DY VEA, but without obligation to do anything.
I want to be A PRAYING PARTNER - holding THIE DY VEA in prayer, and being kept informed of particular points for prayer - including successes for which to give thanks! I’m happy for my email or postal address to be kept on your database for the purpose of receiving general news, and prayer intentions in particular.
I want to be AN ACTIVE PARTNER - make sure I know when THIE DY VEA will be available to inspect, send me details of programmes being offered - I don’t want to miss a thing - I want my email or postal address to be at the top of your list!
I’D LIKE TO BE A DONOR If this is you, we’d love to have a chat - no amount is too small (or too large!) Please get in touch with one of the team, to start a conversation SEE HOW TO CONTACT US