The Divine Retreat Centre is the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world. Over 15 million pilgrims from all over the world have attended retreats here since 1990. It is an achievement possible only through the grace of God. The centre which started out as a preaching ministry has now evolved into a home of love by the providence of God.
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.