Monday, Sep 23, 2019
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NBK celebrates 30 years of Koinonia

It was just over 30 years ago when Father Simeon Roberts sought to fill a gap in the Christian community – to bring a retreat that older adults could benefit from.

The idea came to him when he was confronted by a parent about the lack of fellowship opportunities for people in her age range.

Father Simeon said it was that random conversation that brought about the genesis for the introduction of Koinonia to The Bahamas.

The term, which was new to Bahamians at the time, and still remains relatively unfamiliar, is defined by Merriam-Webster as the “Christian fellowship or an intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.”

As Nassau Bahamas Koinonia (NBK) celebrates 30 years in The Bahamas, Father Simeon said it is much more than that.

He said it also helps Christians, 30-years and older, in their journey towards self-discovery.

“Koinonia is about self-examination where you think about the things you have done and where you have fallen short,” he said.

“A lot of people need to get in touch with themselves … A lot of people experience a metamorphosis through our retreats.

“Koinonia is truly a thrust towards evangelism,” added Helen Campbell, who has been involved with NBK for 22 years.

“What Father Sim is talking about is what Catholic faith is about, the Paschal Mystery: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that is what Koinonia is about.”

Father Simeon recalled the conversation he had with a church member that led him to Koinonia.

“At the time we had a program in the diocese, we referred to it as TEC, To Encounter Christ,” he said.

“It was for [young adults]. I had called this lady by the name of Maud Hamilton. I wanted to get in contact with her daughter because I wanted her daughter to work on the team or do something.

“And Mrs. Hamilton said to me, ‘do you think only young people need a retreat? What about people like us? Why can’t you find something for people like us, like 30-years or older?’

“That stuck with me. I went away to a TEC convention and I went to a seminar and low and behold right before me there was a priest who was conducting a seminar and he was talking about Koinonia and as he continued to explain, I said, ‘wow, wow wow, wow, this could work in The Bahamas.’

“And after the session, I asked the Father if he would be willing to bring a team to The Bahamas to introduce Koinonia to The Bahamas, and he told me he was going to pray about it … and he said he would call me.

“In less than a week, he called me and he told me that he would be willing to come to The Bahamas and introduce Koinonia to The Bahamas. And so said, so done.”

Koinonia convenes biannually during Lent and Advent. The three-day retreats are designed to give adults an experience of Christian community.

In the last 30 years, NBK has hosted 60 retreats.

During the first retreat, held in February 1989, 50 people attended, including Father Martin Machovec and 12 people from South Dakota, who traveled to conduct the retreat.

Though Koinonia is under the auspicious of the Catholic church, it is open to persons of all denominations.

NBK will hold a service celebrating 30 years of Koinonia in The Bahamas on Sunday, at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church at  2 p.m.

Father Simeon said all are invited.

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