Editor’s note: As the days grow longer and (hopefully, one day) warmer, signs of new life spring up all around. In this season of growth, why not make the time to make a retreat? Here’s a favorite excerpt from our archives to help you decide what might be right for you.
Throughout the Diocese of Syracuse there are retreat houses and retreats that provide opportunities for attendees to step away from the hectic pace of life and commune with God and nature.
“There are many reasons for a person to go on retreat,” stated Father John Rose, director at Christ the King Retreat House and Conference Center in Syracuse. “The voice of God is often missed or lost in our busy lives and in the silence [of a retreat] we can hear that voice as we listen to our hearts. It comforts, calms and gives us a real sense of direction.”
What keeps people from going on retreat? Fear is the reason many don’t go on retreat, explained Father Rose. “There are those who fear and avoid silence and are afraid it would be lonely. There are those who are afraid of what they would hear from God during their retreat and they worry that God would ask them to do something they don’t want to do, but that doesn’t normally happen. What does happen is we experience being loved by God. We [as a culture] value busy-ness but it can create stress and it is not of the Gospel. We pride ourselves on productivity, but a retreat is restful, a time to catch up on sleep, to be restored, renewed, in however long or short a time. It doesn’t take long for God to show up and He’s very good at waiting. In the silence [of a retreat] we become our true self as a person and whom we’ve been called to be: a loving and compassionate person, not someone playing a role in life such as a parent, a lawyer, or doctor.”
Types of retreats
What type of retreat should a person look for? “They should find a retreat that answers a specific need in their life,” said Father Rose. Retreat houses in the Diocese of Syracuse host several types of retreats ranging from silent to directed, guided, recovery, individual retreats, men’s, women’s, and even family retreats. Although each retreat in itself is unique, retreats all generally provide an opportunity to spend time with God, commune with nature, and rest and relax.
Silent retreats are exactly what they sound like: a totally silent experience and opportunity to unplug from a busy world. Attendees can meet with a spiritual director, but for the most part, they spend the time alone and in silence. In doing so, they have the rare opportunity to hear what God is saying to them personally.
Guided retreats are for the person who wants more help in finding out about spirituality or other topics. The attendees meet with a trained spiritual companion for them to consult and who can lead them through topics or discussions throughout their time on retreat.
A directed retreat allows a person to enjoy his/her own spiritual journey but consult a spiritual director once a day to discuss private concerns or issues of his/her spirituality. “Directed retreats tend to be more personal than guided retreats,” stated Father Rose. “When you meet with a trained spiritual companion once a day usually a pattern develops and there is distinctive awareness of what you are called to be, and time and attention paid to what God is trying to tell you.”
Men/women/family/couple retreats are specific retreats targeted for issues, topics, or concerns of each particular group. Group retreats for specific organizations, schools, or churches often utilize the quiet and restful space of retreat houses to develop team spirit or team-building exercises, provide time for personal growth and meditation, and to address specific issues important to that group. Recovery retreats deal with addiction.
The cost to participate in a retreat can be a set amount or an offering, depending on the retreat facility. The retreat may include meals but if meals are not offered, there is generally a kitchen or kitchenette attendees can use.
Customized individual or private retreats are available for people who want a more personal retreat experience. A retreat can be customized for a day, an overnight, a weekend or longer, depending on the retreat facility. The focus of these retreats can be simply having time to bond with God or can deal with specific topics, provide both emotional and physical rest, offer quiet time to make future decisions or put to rest past subjects, and to commune with nature.
Here are just a few of the facilities in the diocese that offer retreats. To determine which retreat and facility best fits your needs, visit the center’s website.
Christ the King Retreat House and Conference Center
500 Brookford Road
Syracuse, N.Y. 13224
Mount Saint Francis Hermitage
120 Edson Road
Endicott, N.Y. 13760
Spiritual Renewal Center
1342 Lancaster Avenue
Syracuse, N.Y. 13210
Spirituality and Nature Center at
7770 Green Lakes Road
Fayetteville, N.Y. 13066
701 State Route 79
Windsor, N.Y. 13865