By Claudia Mathis
Sun staff writer
Anyone who is experiencing or has experienced the trauma of a divorce will find the upcoming retreat for separated and divorced, held Sept. 17-19 at Stella Maris Retreat Center in Skaneateles, extremely healing. The quiet, reflective setting of the retreat center facilitates a sense of serenity.
This year marks the retreat’s 10th anniversary. Dean Brainard, coordinator of the Syracuse Diocese’s separated and divorced ministry, said the retreat is usually attended by 20-35 people each year. Brainard has participated in the event for the last seven years. “It’s a tremendous, uplifting experience,” he said. “Every year that I attend, I receive a new level of inspiration from it.”
The theme of this year’s retreat is “Moving Out of Darkness and Into the Light of God’s Love.” The special event is enhanced this year by the addition of two new activities — a guided walk through scenic Skaneateles and Salsa dance lessons during the social hour on Saturday evening.
The weekend’s agenda includes daily Mass (Healing Mass on Saturday evening), a keynote address by nationally-known speaker Dr. Terry O’Brien, fellowship, and plenty of rest and relaxation. Brainard said that O’Brien’s talk would be an uplifting message about how to move forward.
The retreat is open to everyone and often includes singles from other dioceses and religious denominations. People from all stages of the divorce process are welcome. Sue Edwards will be attending for the fourth time this year. Edwards said she gained support through interacting with the other attendees. “People share their stories,” she said. “It’s a wonderful group of people — they feel like family. I feel a peacefulness and I feel welcome when I’m there.”
Karen Redmond, from Marcellus, will be attending the retreat for the fifth time. She described her time spent at the retreat as a very healing experience. The first year she attended, she found the Healing Mass to be very helpful. “I had never felt the Holy Spirit so deeply — it was very powerful,” Redmond said.
Brainard has high hopes for the retreat this year. “I hope that whoever is going will get a sense of strength, hope and courage and also feel a sense of belonging,” he said.
The registration fee of $165, due by Sept. 3, and $175 after Sept. 3 includes five meals and two nights lodging. For more information, contact Dean Brainard at (315) 727-7524.