Caister is a generic title for the event, although each year's retreat conference has its own sub-titular name.
Although the event is organised by members of the Church of England, participants have come from Anglican churches throughout the world, and also from Christian churches of other denominations. The event is of a strongly catholic character.
The first Caister event was held in 1996, and took the name "The Word is Near". It was held at the Haven Holiday Camp in the village of Caister-on-Sea in Norfolk. Participation was restricted to those who qualified as an ordained bishop, priest, or deacon; or to those who were in training for ordination; or to members of religious communities (monks and nuns). However, from the second year (1997) the event has been opened up to lay people as well. Attendance varies from year to year, but the retreat conference typically attracts between 500 and 1,000 participants.
There was no Caister retreat conference in 2000, 2003, or 2006.
The Caister retreat conference lasts for one working week, Monday to Friday, usually during 'Low Week' (the week following Easter Week). The daily timetable is always constructed around the same key events: early morning group Bible study, mid-morning keynote address from a different guest speaker each day, a 'holy hour' at midday (of corporate silence in the presence of the blessed sacrament, concluding with benediction), a series of afternoon optional seminars (with four or five different seminars offered each afternoon), an evening sung mass with a sermon from one of the bishops in attendance, and a late evening special service, whose format varies from day to day throughout the event, but including services of reflection, of reconciliation, of healing, and of praise.
The Bishop of Horsham, Bishop Lindsay Urwin OGS, has led at least one of the key teaching elements in every Caister event; he was the original proponent of Caister, and remains one of the principal organisers.
Despite the change of venue, the event continues to make use of the "Caister" generic title, coupled with an event title for the year. That of 2007 was "Continuing Wonder". The tag line of the event is "An initiative of Anglican Bishops to encourage Christians in evangelism and spiritual renewal".
The Caister event continues to benefit from the generous sponsorship of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, many of whose members are also participants.
Caister 2008 took place from 31 March - 4 April on the theme of 'Resounding Joy', and keynote speakers included Bishop Gordon Mursell (Bishop of Stafford), and Mother Winsome CSMV, amongst others. A dozen active Church of England bishops were present for all or part of the event.
Details of Caister 2009 have not yet been announced.
Caister's website is www.fantheflame.co.uk