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6 Private Catholic retreat centers where you can recharge your soul in solitude

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

Mr.TinDC | Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Christin Parcerisa - published on 09/20/19

These centers offer quiet and solitude, along with access to Mass, confession, and spiritual direction.

Going away on a retreat offers an amazing opportunity to enrich our spiritual selves. There’s so much that we can learn from these experiences, from going deeper in prayer, to bonding with our family. However, there are times in which what we need the most is to find peace in solitude, and reconnect spiritually on a personal level.

Taking time to visit a solitary place to pray can sometimes do the trick, but sometimes it’s best to go all the way and really disconnect from your daily routine to come back fully restored. There’s nothing like traveling for this, and when you start a journey of spiritual self-boosting, several retreat centers in the US offer private retreat opportunities. 

There are some centers that allow guests in search of peace and quiet to rent private rooms where they can retire for rest and prayer. Being in solitude while being part of a greater environment can help you find the right balance you may be looking for. 

What is different about private retreats is that they don’t have a formal schedule, nor do they require retreatants to pray according to any set theme or topic. Everything about them is custom-made, so you can decide the path you want to take. However, those who prefer can include spiritual direction sessions and join prayer groups, have talks with spiritual guides, seek private consultations from staff members, or have confession hours available for them.   

How can you organize your private retreat?

Once you have decided where you want to go, and for how long, it’s time to think about what are you going to do when you get there. The first thing is to determine what your goals are, and then organize the activities according to what you want to achieve. Being in solitude is always a great opportunity for catching up with your literature, so picking some spiritual books to read might be a great place to start. 

Since there’s no one planning your schedule for you, it’s important to get that organized at first. It’s helpful to decide on a regular set of prayers for each day, name a time for contemplation, decide on the time you’ll dedicate to your readings, and set aside time for other activities that can be done in the centers. 

Choose your retreat

“Come away, all of you, to a quiet place, and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31

Ready to escape the noise, distractions, responsibilities, and constant activity? Here are some retreat centers in the US that offer private retreats:

1. Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, Washington, DC

Located in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC, the monastery has two personal retreat houses, called Hermitage guesthouses, located in the middle of a beautiful forest. These cozy, modern 350-square-foot houses are fully equipped with a bed, private bathroom, kitchenette, desk and a comfortable rocking chair on the outdoor deck, ideal for relaxation and contemplation. Guests staying in the private retreats may attend Mass at the monastery, as well as confession. It’s also possible to visit the beautiful church or the Alverna Chapel by themselves, and wander around the extensive gardens that are home to shrines of the Holy Land and Lourdes. 


Read more:
A peaceful retreat for one … in the heart of Washington, D.C.

2. The New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur, California

This retreat center is located in Big Sur, California, with an impressive view of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by the California oak forests. The view alone guarantees a restorative experience. The Benedictine monastery has a main retreat house with private rooms overlooking the ocean and a private garden. Additionally, there are five private fully equipped hermitages right along the hillside below the main house. Their private sundecks will allow guests to enjoy the beautiful ocean views in solitude. For those looking for an experience inside the monastery, in 2011 some monks’ cells were re-purposed and turned into private retreat accommodations. Since they are within the monastic enclosure, these spaces are only available for male retreatants. The private cells have a modern a cozy environment and include a bath, a prayer room, a sleeping cove and a kitchenette. In addition to the extensive gardens, visitors can also spend some time at the chapel and the bookstore. 

3. Catholic Conference and Formation Center, Dallas, Texas

Located about five miles from downtown Dallas, Texas, it has several houses for directed retreats, and some rooms set aside for private retreats. The Guadalupe Chapel has a very intimate feeling, which makes it the best spot for spiritual reflection and prayer. The center has a lot of space, so in addition to the dining rooms you can also find a picnic pavilion and separate gardens, such as the Rosary Garden, the prayer garden or the fire pit pagoda.

4. Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, West Hartford, Connecticut

This retreat center in West Hartford, Connecticut, is a beautiful place for people looking for stillness and silence while spending some time outdoors. Their private retreats can go from a weekend or a whole week. Private retreats here include a private room with a private bathroom and meals. In their facilities they have spaces dedicated to rest, prayer, study and reading. A labyrinth is located in a patio in the middle of the forest where guests are invited to walk while having a spiritual reflection and reconnect in silence with your thoughts and prayers.  

5. Franciscan Renewal Center, Paradise Valley, Arizona

This center in Arizona has numerous programs for people who are looking to take a deeper dive in their spiritual life. There are options for young adults, a youth group, family programs, healing programs and different types of workshops. Private retreats are also available with a private room with bathroom, as well as daily Mass and access to all meals. There’s a church on the grounds, but for a more private experience guests can also visit two small chapels, perfect for silent prayers and contemplation. There are 26 acres of desert walking paths, and through those it’s possible to find contemplative spaces, seats with a view, a pool and whirlpool, as well as a healing garden — a beautiful spot to sit calmly and spend time with your thoughts.   

6. Eastern Point Retreat House, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Located in Massachusetts, this center has a beautiful Atlantic Ocean view. This Jesuit-run retreat house is very busy with directed retreats, so those seeking a private option should schedule well ahead of time, since the house can only receive 38 retreatants. The house has single rooms, most of which have balconies with tables and chairs. This is a great place to spend time outdoors, and take long walks or hikes near the rocky ocean coast. For those who are even more active, they highly recommend bringing a bicycle to explore the surroundings. 

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