Families look forward to their annual summer holidays, but some families have to think twice before spending on this luxury. So, the St. Vincent the Paul team treated nine adopted families and those assisting in the church to a vacation, filled with cherished memories and family bonding at St. Stanislaus Villa, Lonavla. On Friday, 8th June, 31 people including parents, children, and five SVP members set out on the Deccan Queen to Lonavala, indulging in vada pav along the way.

The happiest and most excited of the lot were the children. Giles, the well-known caretaker of the Villa warmly welcomed us. The first night was a relaxing one—assigning rooms, settling in, group dinner, rosary, and the good ol’ Housie. Those bursting with energy set out for a short moonlit walk.

The beauty about Lonavla is that you wake up to the chirping of the birds and fresh air. The setting was perfect—greenery, colourful flowers, mountains and misty clouds, made for amazing group pictures. While the early risers headed out to their regular hunt for cutting-chai, others took a nature walk picking bimblis and mangoes.

After a scrumptious breakfast, the SVP members organised a trip to Kumar Water Park, which was the highlight for the families. The children had a blast—swimming, enjoying themselves on the water slides, the floats and regaling at the rain dance. As innocent and sweet as they are, we literally pull them away to make it in time to the Villa for lunch. The fun and games continued with an afternoon session of housie and carom.

Saturday evening we headed to St Anthony Church for mass, as the chapel at the residency was under renovation. However, it was worth it as the youth choir enriched the experience with their melodious singing. A trip to Lonavla is incomplete without some chikki shopping. Since the church was locate in the market, we hit two birds with one stone. The day unwounded with rosary, delicious dinner, and another round of housie.

Sunday morning started on a bustling note, while the early birds went on their morning walk, two lads and one adult set out on an adventurous 21 kms run. The amazing setting and weather encouraged them to complete it and their efforts were awarded.

After morning prayer and energising breakfast, the families engaged in a treasure hunt and culminated with a dance session, which brought out their dancing finesse. Post lunch, we concluded the holiday with a final game of housie and prize distribution. After tea, we said our thanks and goodbye to Giles, and boarded the bus for Mumbai.

By God’s grace, we had a safe, pleasant, and injury-free trip. It was remarkable to see older kids looking after and fending for the younger ones. Families came together to help in few cleaning chores. The most touching gesture was the token of appreciation to the kitchen staff—the families pooled in a collection.

The children are refreshed and energised to start the new academic year. Their parents ready to get back to work after a much-needed relaxed weekend in scenic surroundings.

The SVP is ever grateful to Fr. Gerard, SJ who made this trip possible along with our many benefactors and donors. May God Bless them all!

St Andrew’s Conference, SSVP