Forty years ago, a group of retired Catholics in France came together. They  had a grievance. They were tired of being relegated to their parish sidelines and their talents being overlooked. They were convinced that older people like themselves had a wealth of experience waiting to be tapped for the benefit of their fellow christians. Moreover, their twilight years had brought about changes in their own spiritual and social needs that were not being adequately addressed by their local churches. They decided to do something about it.

To emphasise that they were not looking at their situation in a negative light, the group gave direction to their efforts with a title "Vie Montante" which was later translated in some English speaking countries as "Ascent". They rejected the idea that their lives were in decline, that the already had one foot in the grave. No, they said, our retirement is prime time, a moment for looking forward and upward, for accelerated growth in a loving relationship with God and his people.

In the space of a few years, Ascent had spread to other European countries, to North and South America, to Japan and a number of African nations. Its aims were SPIRITUALITY, APOSTOLATE and FRIENDSHIP. A logo was devised incorporating the title ASCENT, the three aims and a capital "A" suggesting a mountain or pinnacle surmounting a cross to characterise its Christian and specifically Catholic identity. The appeal of the movement to older generations had become evident and its success was crowned in 1996 when the Vatican gave it official status as a lay association in the universal Church.

Fr. Terence Barnard came to Krugersdorp as parish priest in 1998. One of his plans for the parish was to reach out to the elderly and the housebound. In November of that year, an invitation was extended to all the retired to come to a meeting in the parish hall. Over a cup of tea, some 35 of us, including Fr. Tom O'Dea, discussed ways and means of getting to know one another and offering mutual support. It was agreed that we continue to meet once a month to pray and relax together and to forge bonds of friendship. A year went by, our numbers had grown, and it was felt it was time to formally find a place for our group on the parish map. Contact had been made with the Ascent Movement in England. We were drawn to the idea of being part of an international body whose aims corresponded well with what we ourselves were trying to do. After obtaining authorisation from bishop Reginald Orsmond, at that time Bishop of Johannesburg, to introduce Ascent into the diocese, application for membership was made to the headquarters in Paris. This was granted in the year 2000.
The 9 November 2005 will see the seventh anniversary of our original meeting for the retired of the parish. Our numbers have fluctuated over the years and at present stand at about 20 regular members. We meet every second Monday of the month at 10:00 am in the Tom O'Dea Centre. After refreshments, the meeting opens with a reflection and prayer centered on the Mass readings of the following Sunday. We frequently have speakers to address us on items of interest. Alternatively, a member will organise a demonstration or a fun activity. From time to time, outings are arranged and once a year, we have a day of recollection at a retreat centre or at the convent.

New members are always welcome. Why not come and see for yourself? You are sure to find someone you already know and will soon make other friends. For further information, contact James Tel. 082 903 7649.