Divine Retreat Centre – St Augustines Abbey Ramsgate And Carmel Divine Centre Darlington, are branches of the famous POTTA DIVINE MINISTRY that has its origin in a small suburban village in Kerala, India, called Potta.
The Divine Retreat Centre is a Retreat centre situated in Muringoor, near Chalakudy, Kerala, India. It is part of the renewal movement of the Vincentian Congregation of India, who have been conducting retreats in parishes in Kerala since the 1950s. It was inaugurated in 1987.
How the Potta-Divine ministry began
The Potta-Divine retreat ministry is part of the renewal movement of the Vincentian Congregation of India, based on the spiritual traditions bequeathed by St. Vincent de Paul.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18) This was taken by St.Vincent as a special motto for his own ministry and that of the society of priests that he founded. The Vincentian Congregation, patterned on the society of priests founded by St. Vincent de Paul, was started in India in 1904.
The two main aims of the Vincentian Congregation are:
*Preaching the good news to the poor
*Caring for the poor and the afflicted
Since 1950, Indian Vincentian priests have been conducting popular mission retreats in parishes in Kerala, India. The effect has been overwhelming – it brought out a dynamic spiritual transformation in the lives of people.
In 1977, the Potta ashram was established as the centre to direct and to co-ordinate popular mission retreats. Full time preachers began to stay over to pray and prepare together. Large crowds began to flock to the ashram – the sick, the brokenhearted, and those seeking spiritual deliverance from vices including alcohol and drug addictions. God’s compassionate love poured out in abundance and healed many, as the good news of salvation was preached to all.
The facilities at Potta ashram became inadequate for the large number of people converging for week-long residential retreats held in Malayalam. A sprawling residence was acquired at Muringoor, on the banks of Chalakudy River, six kilometres away from Potta – it was named Divine Retreat Centre. The mighty works of God spread far and wide, all over the world, and the pilgrims poured in. New vistas opened up and retreats began in six other languages – English, Konkani, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi.
Today, Divine Retreat Centre is the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world. Since 1990, over 10 million pilgrims from all over the world have attended retreats here. Weekly retreats in 7 languages are held non-stop every week of the year. It is truly an achievement possible only by the grace of God.
The retreat centre also houses several homes attending to the sick and the marginalised section of society.
- The Divine Mercy Home for the aged
- St Mary’s Home for destitute women (also has a crèche for abandoned children)
- Samaritan Home, for school-going children aged of 3 to 17
- Shantipuram Care Centre, a home for the mentally challenged, was started in 2001.
- De-addiction centre.
- St Vincent Aids Home, that looks after the HIV positive and AIDS patients.
Divine TV ministry
Divine TV is the 24-hour commercial-free television channel of the Divine Vision Network (DVN). It first went on-air in UK, Europe and the Middle East on 24 December 2008. This was quickly followed with the launch of Divine Vision Network in USA and Canada on 25 May 2009. DVN Online TV was officially launched on 4 October 2009, and is available 24/7 on the Internet. Mr.Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala, launched the telecast Divine Vision programmes are also broadcast by other channels such as Goodness TV in India on 20 November 2011 .
The media wing of the Divine Retreat Centre
Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus and to the house of Matthew, the tax collector. He also preached in synagogues, by the sea, and on the hillsides. In fact, Jesus proclaimed his message of love and repentance wherever it was needed. To walk in the Master’s footsteps – this is the inspiration that led the Vincentian fathers to take up the call of our Pope towards “a new evangelisation.”
A prophetic church must read the signs of the times and with new technology create a new world of communication – without borders and rooted in Christian values. The TV ministry was something that would cost a lot. It would most definitely not attract sponsors that commercially viable programmes would. Still this was the step Divine felt we could no longer ignore. What we needed is a Divine vision.
The Vincentian fathers of the Divine-Potta ministry, in addition to conducting retreats in 7 languages on a regular basis, have also been going around the world holding retreats. But Jesus spoke of the “world” that we need to touch with the Word of God – the “world” that will not bother to step into churches or spiritual retreat centres.
We were concerned about those who, after going back from the Divine retreats and conventions, thirst for the beauty and purity of the Word preached here. Divine Vision, the TV ministry of the Divine Retreat Centre, is focused on deeply teaching the masses, the “Way of Christ.
“In this powerful way the word of the Lord kept spreading and growing stronger (Acts 19:20).