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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 14:42 GMT
Vicar opens Indian-style retreat
A Sikh man at prayer
All faiths are encouraged to prayer and meditate together
A vicar has opened a multi-faith retreat so people with different religions can "get to know" each other better.

Rev Geraint ap Iorwerth has opened an Indian-style ashram where people can meditate and pray.

It has opened near his church in Pennal, near Machynlleth, and is believed to the first of its type in Wales.

Muslims, Christians and Buddhists attended the official opening.

An ashram is a retreat for spiritual growth, peace, tranquillity and meditation and are common among Hindu communities in India.

The retreat is at the rebuilt Hagia Soffia/Divine Wisdom Chapel in the village, which has a garden and a white celtic cross outside.

Surely now is the time to reach out in a new way
Rev Geraint ap Iorwerth

"We had people representing the Sufi, Muslim, Christian, Quaker, Buddhist and Hindu religions at the opening," said Rev ap Iorwerth, vicar of Pennal's St Peter ad Vincula Church.

"We are building on the good work by people in response to the tsunami.

"Over the last few months hundreds of thousands of people have reached out with genuine concern and hard cash towards the people of South East Asia .

"The tsunami was no respecter of a person's religion in an area where Muslims and Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, have been killed or traumatised."

He added: "Surely now is the time to reach out in a new way, with the same love and respect, in order to get to know one another better?

"Integral to this process is getting to know more about our different religions and learning how to honour each one. We need shared sacred space to help do this.

"I think it's vital people learn about the world's religions. People can stay in the area and use the ashram everyday or they can use while in the area for a day."

An electrical fault destroyed the first chapel in August 2003.

Rev ap Iorwerth in recent years has opened a garden at St Peter ad Vincula Church in Pennal dedicated to the Welsh princes.

He has also unveiled a statue of Owain Glyndwr at the church, which rock legend and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant donated money towards.


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