Recharge the soul amidst inspiring natural and architectural surroundings.
To drop everything for a weekend, and spend time in solitude (and maybe silence!), prayer and reflection is the perfect antidote to our busy, distracted lives. As we look forward to a frenetic holiday season, with Thanksgiving around the corner, this may be the perfect time for a spiritual retreat. If things are a little too busy now, consider scheduling a retreat for after Christmas, when you are ready to make the most of it.
Spiritual retreats are not just for priest and religious. In fact, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops urges lay people to take advantage of opportunities to go on a retreat: “In the midst of your busy lives, a retreat opportunity affords you time of silence and clarity that cannot be found in the world.”
These 12 Catholic retreat centers offer all that, and more – each is a beautiful setting that will inspire you and put you in the perfect frame of mind a fruitful spiritual repose.
1. The Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Located in an old stone mansion overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Point Retreat House offers Jesuit retreats based on the exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
2. New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California
Since 1958, the monks of New Camaldoli Hermitage, have welcomed guests to experience the peace their location, overlooking the Pacific Ocean affords their Benedictine community every day. [Note: Due to extensive repairs to Highway 1 necessitated by a major rockslide, access to the Hermitage is currently somewhat limited, but they are welcoming guests again.]
3. The Shrine of Saint Therese of Lisieux in Juneau, Alaska
At this national shrine operated by the Catholic Diocese of Alaska, retreatants come to enjoy the natural beauty of the oceanside location, and the freedom from modern distractions. Depending on their preference, guests can stay in log cabins or a small hermitage with no running water or electricity.
4. The Monastery of Bethlehem in Sullivan County, New York
Located in the Catskill Mountains two and a half hours from New York City, the Monastery of Bethlehem offers beauty, silence and solitude from its location amidst acres of forest. “The colors of the hills and the stillness of the lakes offer rest and relief to weary spirits,” promise the monastic sisters who operated the retreat center.
5. St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts
The community of Trappist monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey invites guests to get a taste of the monastic life at this beautiful bucolic setting. Retreatants are welcome to join the monks for the Liturgy of the Hours and for Mass, and at conferences given by the monks.
6. Cormaria in Sag Harbor, New York
Cormaria is a Catholic Retreat House set on 18 waterfront acres in the historic whaling village of Sag Harbor, New York. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary consider inclusive hospitality their vocation and invite guests of all denominations to “come away and rest a while.”
7. Villa Maria del Mar in Santa Cruz, California
Villa Maria del Mar, a beachfront property overlooking Monterey Bay in the Pacific Ocean, is owned and operated by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
8. Serra Retreat in Malibu, California
Located on top of a 26-acre knoll in Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and with views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Serra Retreat is a place of uncommon beauty. Operated by the Franciscan Friars, the retreat center offers private retreats and themed retreats, including those based on the 12-step recovery program.
9. Loyola on the Potomac in Faulkner, Maryland
This Jesuit retreat house overlooks the Potomac River and is surrounded by 235 acres of rolling woodland. Ignatian weekend retreats are available.
10. Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau, Louisiana
Guests at the Jesuit-run Our Lady of Oaks Retreat House enjoy sitting in the shade provided by old oak trees in the central courtyard of the beautiful Spanish mission style estate. Retreats are based on St. Ignatius’ spiritual exercises.
11. Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana
Founded by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland in 1854, Saint Meinrad Archabbey offers a beautiful and tranquil spot for prayer and spiritual growth. Benedictine monks lead three-day retreats during the weekends and during the week.
12. Longlea Conference Center in Boston, Virginia
Located on 843 acres next to the scenic Blue Hills of Virginia, Longlea offers silent retreats conducted by priests of Opus Dei for either men or women. Mothers with young babies are welcome — each year two retreats are designated to accommodate infants.