QUAERITUR: Traditional retreat centers

From a reader:

Can you recommend a retreat center for traditional Catholics? Most I have found online sound too, um, modern for my taste and would be a torment and not an occasion for spiritual growth.

Perhaps you can help, dear readers?

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  1. greasemonkey says:

    I’ve heard good things about the St. Benedict center in Still River… FSSP hosted Ignatian retreat.
    If one can get around the issues with the SSPX, my wife attests to a great Ignatian retreat at Ridgefeild CT. I think I’d end up dwelling on the canonical status of the SSPX to the point where I wouldn’t be able to enter into the retreat properly.
    One day I hope the Carmelite Monks is WY will offer retreats for the laity.

  2. lucaslaroche says:

    Saint Benedict Center in Still River, Massachusetts is right around the corner, and they’re almost as good as you can get. Feels like your stepping back in time: full habits, Extraordinary Form, all the works.

  3. wolfeken says:

    Father James Buckley, FSSP, conducts several Ignatian retreats around the country when the seminary is on break. Unfortunately the website has not been updated — http://fssp.com/press/category/calendar/retreats/ — but perhaps a secretary at the seminary may be able to find one closest to you over the summer. I’ve been on several — he is an absolutely amazing retreat master. (Which also means his retreats fill up far in advance.)

    Also, Clear Creek is a popular place for retreats, although I do not know how they are organized: http://clearcreekmonks.org/about-clear-creek-abbey.html

  4. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    I would check out or contact ChurchMilitant.tv – Michael Voris does a lot of speaking at these type of functions. Also, I would trust his judgment regarding retreats etc.

  5. mschu528 says:

    Fr Isaac Mary Relyea leads great traditional Ignatian retreats.


  6. jeffmcl says:

    Depends on where you live of course… In CA I would recommend Aloysius Retreat Center which is run by SSPX. Whatever issues one might have with SSPX, their retreats are well run and they have an excellent bookstore. If you don’t feel comfortable with them you don’t have to go to confession/Communion but can still have the benefit of a good Ignatian retreat.

  7. Allan S. says:

    Yes, the Carmelite Monks are in a touchy situation as far as affiliated third orders go. I had myself made some inquiries a while back, and the upshot seems to be that the Monks are not…shall we say…fully embraced by traditional (as in currently reigning, not the real big T kind) Carmelite orders. They are estbalished lawfully, of course, but are not permitted to use the standard O. Carm etc. after their names, and they wear their scapulars differently to not run afoul of the those currently holding the reins.

    Lay people wishing to seek third orders or retreats of a Carmelite bent are given short shrift, told that in the view of the Carmelite superiors being attached to the tradition Mass or Office displays a “faulty ecclesiology” and anyone who tries to become a lay Carmelite or start a chapter with traditional liturgical celebrations will find the hammer is swift and sure. SP does not exist for them, at all. I am happy – indeed I would be thrilled – if some reader can contradict my own experience and inquiries and supply a connection or source where laity seeking a lay Carmelite third order could associate themselves.

    I gather this is why the Monks in Wyoming have not started a third order themselves. They have a “Guild” of course which is basically wear the scapular and send money monthly, etc. – itself a very worthy cause and a good idea, but no actual third orders with Chapters, meetings, liturgy, vows and all the usual trappings one sees in most third orders. It would be nice, of course, if the Carmelites could see their way clear to allowing their Order to grow in this way, but I guess the Order will need “reforming” again as it did before.

    Or, following the theme of “Ride the Bike!” enterprising laity with a Carmelite calling could simply form a Private Association of the Christian Faithful under canon law and call themselves reformed or traditional Carmelites and just do it, without seeking to affiliate at all – and see who has the momentum in 20 years :)

  8. Deo volente says:

    I receive the newsletter of the FSSP, and as Wolfeken has stated, those newsletters contain the most up-to-date information on their retreats and not the website. My contact in Arlington has sent out information on two retreats which I posted and are linked below:

    F.S.S.P. Silent Retreat for Men with Fr. James Buckley, F.S.S.P. – June 27 – 30th, 2013, White Post, VA

    Ladies Retreat (TLM) with Father James Buckley, F.S.S.P., Upper Marlboro, MD – July 14-19th, 2013

    There are other retreats posted in the newsletter in the north and west, and I believe it is best to try to be placed on the FSSP newsletter list to get all that info.


  9. acardnal says:

    andersonbd1 , do the Trappists at Genesee Abbey celebrate the TLM/Extraordinary Form Mass?

  10. Tradster says:

    I have been to the silent retreat at Ridgefield and can vouch that it is a deeply moving and completely traditional experience.

  11. frahobbit says:

    I just went to Malvern Retreat center in Malvern, Pa. I don’t drive & it was easy. In the 48 hours we had: 3 conferences; 3 homilies; arise ea.da.& recite the Regina Coeli at your door; Mass ea.da.;night prayer, morn.prayr & eve prayr ea.da. confession w/4 priests on Sat and Sun; chaplet of Divine Mercy ea.da. w/ solemn blessing of the image on Sunday; rosary procession to Fatima shrine; vigils 9-12 friday; all-night vigil sat; Intro to the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy; enrollment in the brown scapular; presentation by Brian Gail, OLC (author of Fatherless); Q&A w/Fr Stephen De Lacy & Mother Jacinta Miryam SSCJ; of course food and sleep somewhere in there. There was more but no time to tell all. http://www.malvernretreat.com I hope I can go next year.

  12. Indulgentiam says:

    The Benedictine Abbey at Clear Creek is exceptional in every regard. Weather you go for a retreat or by yourself. I didn’t go there for a retreat just to pray. They chant the Mass and ALL the Offices. They have a guest house where anyone may stay and a Gate house where only men stay. If your a gentlemen you can stay in the gatehouse and pray all the Offices as well as work along side the Monks. Fr. Bachman made an excellent impression on my teenage son. If your a lady there are only 3 Offices which you may not attend. Matins, Lauds and Compline. I didn’t find that limiting in the least. I had a hard enough time just keeping to he rest of them. After a while, when we got the hang of the schedule, it was by far the most, body and soul, refreshing time I’ve ever spent. I went to an Ignatian retreat once but sadly it was mostly over my head. I had such a hard time focusing. Even though the Priest giving it was clear, interesting and engaging, I still struggled to keep up. Obviously I’m not the sharpest tool in he shed. But at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey all u had to do was pray and go to confession (optional). There, from the Monks, I learned what prayer sounds and looks like when it’s reverent and soul deep. I can’t wait to go back.

  13. marajoy says:

    The priests of Miles Christi give the Spiritual Exercises and Days of Recollection that are pretty traditional.

  14. priests wife says:

    please look into our monks- they are close to Chicago
    It is a Byzantine Catholic monastery, so perhaps it would be too distracting with a different rite, but it is a faithful, peaceful place!

  15. Joseph-Mary says:

    My friend and I stopped at Clear Creek in Oklahoma in January. We stayed in the log guest house for ladies. Men can stay with the monks, I understand. You will need your own provisions, etc. but the opportunity to attend both high and low Mass is there every day. The bookstore is quite nice. You will be on your own but the quiet time for reflection is prevalent.

  16. greasemonkey says:

    Allan: The monks in WY are not OCarm or OCD, and they don’t pretend to be. If the 2 “mainstream branches” of the Carmelite family can’t deal with them using the Carmelite name they can just keep doing what they’re doing and the WY Carmelites may be the only ones left in the future.
    I am in the St. Elilas Province. Our priest began to request permission from the OCarm Curia in Rome to use the Carmelite Liturgical books back in 2007. It wasn’t until last year that the Prior General himself signed off on it. We have the Carmelite Rite where I am now fairly routinely.
    I am also in the 3rd Order OCarm. I let them know from the begining that I worship under the provisions of SP, and intended to use the Office of the EF. I didn’t get any push back, but I would agree that “they” wouldn’t approve of our chapter being 100% committed to the earlier liturgical tradition of the Carmelites.
    All that being said… IF the WY Carmelites offered retreats then it would be totally acceptable to attend, as they are a legitimate Order in the Church. Weather the Order of Carms or the Discalced like them or not doesn’t matter a HOOOOT.

  17. Andkaras says:

    Say what you will, the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi offer a top rate retreat. Ignatian , and confession ,during mass too . Solid and orthodox.

  18. The Masked Chicken says:

    “All that being said… IF the WY Carmelites offered retreats then it would be totally acceptable to attend, as they are a legitimate Order in the Church. Weather the Order of Carms or the Discalced like them or not doesn’t matter a HOOOOT.”

    Are you sure about that? The Prior Generals could order that no Calced or Discalced secular attend the Wyoming retreats and, while that might be challenged in Rome, I don’t think the PG needs a reason for issuing his directive. Such an order would be binding under obedience until overturned (which I doubt), by Rome.

    The Chicken

  19. Jon says:


    I grew up a few miles from Our Lady of the Genesee. Unless you like the Novus Ordo celebrated on round rock in what looks like a Norwegian sauna, I’m afraid it’s best to stay far, far, away. They’re much contaminated by Mertonism. You only have to look at their web site to see it.


    I can help. I now live in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Before he was transferred to South Bend, our former bishop, Kevin Rhoades, invited the Traditional Carmilite Nuns of Lincoln to take over an – we’ll call it aged out – Discalced Novus Ordo monastery. Here’s their web site: http://friendsofcarmeljmj.org/

    There are about 18 sisters there presently, and their vocations are growing (there was a veiling this past Monday at which our Ordinary, Bishop Joseph McFadden, officiated). Their Masses were the responsibility of the FSSP, who care for their mother house in Nebraska. Their liturgical needs are now taken care of by a nearby diocesan priest who celebrates the Extraordinary Form. The Fraternity out of Scranton till helps on occasion.

    Anyway, the nuns are strictly enclosed. You can see “friends of Carmel” take care of the blog. They rely utterly on outside donations, only making a few items for sale at their religious goods counter (so GIVE if you’re able). They don’t have retreats there, although our FSSP parish in Harrisburg sometimes uses their chapel and grounds for one day conferences.

    As for a Third Order chapter, they do in fact have a group that meets and uses the 1960 “Manual of the Third Order Secular of Our Blessed Lady of Mt. Carmel and St Teresa of Jesus.” They meet with the approbation of both Mother Superior, and Bishop McFadden. They’re not affiliated with the official OCDS however (they being as you indicate, rather cranky in that regard). Their status is more akin to Oblates of a Benedictine monastery. As such, they still use the old ritual for induction. I’m not a member, but I’m guessing they’ll take distance members. If you’re interested, you can write here, friendsofcarmeljmj@gmail.com , and they’ll put you in touch with the individual who can answer your questions.

  20. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Just a BTW: The Carmelites in Wyoming send seminarians to the FSSP seminary in Nebraska for study, strictly traditional. They are raising funds for building. Perhaps they will host retreats in future. Buy some Mystic Monk Coffee.


  21. Papabile says:

    The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem ( http://www.canonsregular.com/ ) occasionally offer traditional retreats. They are located in Charles Town, WV. It’s about 1.5 hours for me from Northern VA. They were origginally canonically erected by Cardinal Burke and are now under H.E. Bransfield (a former Rector of the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC).

    Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer is the prior, and former SSPX. They are Augustinian in their approach. Truly excellent order.

    Good article on them in Crisis ( http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/the-traditional-mass-is-not-a-spectator-sport ). It notes their small size, but I believe they have gained a seminarian or two since.

  22. Bea says:

    You beat me to it.
    That’s who I was going to recommend, too.

    Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma
    Fr. Buckley’s FSSP retreats of which Deo violent posted so concisely

    I believe the Wyoming Carmelites will be having retreats in the future after their center is built.
    That is what I understood to be their future plans.

  23. The Retreat Center run by the Bl. Margaret of Castello Chapter of the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic (a.k.a. Dominican Third Order) near Boise, ID is also an option. I don’t know all the details about the current status of the Retreat Center since I’ve never been there. But you can contact their blog administrator, Mr. John Keenan, OP directly, for more information: John.C.Keenan@gmail.com.

    I can recommend the location because I know the disposition of the Chapter Members. They are a very faithful group of Catholics. Tradition is very important to them.

  24. Kent says:

    FSSP offers a men’s retreat June 20-23 in Denton, NE. Fr.Buckley ‘s Ignation retreats are August 9-11 for men and July 26-28 for women both at St. Benedict Abbey in Still River, MA.

  25. greasemonkey says:

    “The Prior Generals could order that no Calced or Discalced secular attend the Wyoming retreats and, while that might be challenged in Rome, I don’t think the PG needs a reason for issuing his directive. Such an order would be binding under obedience until overturned (which I doubt), by Rome.”
    The sky could turn purple tomorrow too?
    I can’t see one Order in the Church, forbidding folks (layfolks none the less) that they can’t attend a retreat of another Order that is in good canonical status with the Church? All the OCarms or OCD “might” say is that they aren’t affiliated with the MCarms in WY.
    Imagine a brown fransican telling folks they can’t go to the black fransicans, or benedictains being told they can’t visit a trappist monastery?

  26. pawelthegreat says:

    Look up for a nearby Opus Dei center.
    To put it simply, they give retreats that are very edifying and spiritually rich.

    Who knows, it might change your life as it did mine.

  27. Imrahil says:

    Imagine a brown fransican telling folks they can’t go to the black fransicans, or benedictains being told they can’t visit a trappist monastery?

    I would be very surprised if not precisely this has happened before in Church history.

  28. Jacob says:

    In June, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary (FSSP) in Denton, Nebraska hosts an Ignatian retreat.

  29. VARoman says:

    Longlea in Boston, VA. An Opus Dei retreat house. Men’s and women’s retreats are offered. Silent, daily Mass, Regina Cæli at Easter, Via Crucis every day, daily rosary, wonderful preached meditations and a beautiful setting. I just got back from my first there. Highly recommend it.

  30. KAS says:

    Featherock Conference Center in Shulenburg, TX : http://www.featherock.org/

    I’ve been to three or four silent retreats there over the last two or three years. The priests who have directed the meditations were amazing– and ORTHODOX! The chapel is lovely, Adoration excellent, Confession available several hours each day, the food is good, each person is in a small, simple room by themselves to facilitate thinking and prayer, the grounds are very nice for walking during breaks.

    It is especially good because it is aimed at lay persons who are trying to live Catholicism in their whole lives, so there are women’s retreats for mothers and others for women focusing on their careers. I suspect there are variations for the retreats for men too. It is run by people from Opus Dei.

    I’ve come away from every retreat having experienced God’s hand in what I learned every time– usually not what I thought I was going to pray about but rather what I needed even more and did not know I needed.

  31. alexrodriguez says:

    Without knowing where you live its hard to answer but if you are in the South East I would recommend http://roseaire.org it’s retreats hosted by priests of Opus Dei.

  32. future_sister says:

    You may be interested in the checking out Holy Hill monastery in Wisconsin. There is the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians there run by the Discalced Carmelite friars. Which IMHO the Discalced are far more hardcore than O. Carm just in their following of the original rule. They have a couple different retreat houses there, I know I plan to go at some point, my spiritual director is a member of the order (may be why I’m biased). I can promise, these friars know their stuff on ALL (emphasis on the all… including things not taught enough today) spiritual matters. I know they follow the old calendar too, my friend said he will receive the habit April 30th, and it’s the feast of St. Catherine of Sienna… and I was confused, till I found an old enough calendar and went oh!!! So yeah.

  33. ReginaMarie says:

    I second Clear Creek Monastery (OK) & Holy Resurrection Monastery (WI). I have been to the former, but not the latter…yet! I also highly recommend Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic monastery in Redwood Valley, CA:

    Christ the Bridegroom Monastery — Byzantine women’s monastery in Burton, OH…beautiful Amish country: http://www.christthebridegroom.org/

    Mount St. Macrina Monastery — Sisters of St. Basil the Great, Byzantine Catholic women’s monastery in Uniontown, PA: http://www.sistersofstbasil.org/

  34. magister63 says:

    I have made several retreats at the St. Ignatius Retreat house in Ridgefield, CT, and have never felt more energized spiritually. A wonderful place with holy priests and brothers. Nothing else compares.

  35. MaryofSharon says:

    Anything with the Community of St. John is excellent. They offer a number of silent retreats in their three locations in the US in Peoria, IL; Laredo, TX; and Orange, NJ. These retreats are traditional retreats with a few conferences by the retreat director, Mass, confession, and spiritual direction, as well as the Liturgy of the Hours. These priests are very orthodox and very reverent, with a strong background in philosophy and theology, making them intellectually stimulating as well as spiritually challenging. Their US website is at http://www.communityofstjohn.com.

    For their Laredo, TX events see http://www.communityofstjohn.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53%3Alaredo-brothers&catid=35%3Alaredo&Itemid=58&limitstart=4

    They offer several exceptional programs for young adults through a program called Eagle Eye Ministries, which can be found at http://soaringforwisdom.com/

  36. MarieSiobhanGallagher says:

    Fr. John Perricone will preach a men’s retreat on Nov 8,9,10, 2013 at St. Mary’s Villa in Sloatsburg, NY. (just north of NJ) The retreat is in the Ignatian style (silent, except during meals) and all masses are in the Extraordinary Form. Confessions, Benediction, several meditations a conference, and a truly devout and Catholic priest preaching. I went to the recent ladies’ retreat the first weekend of March. He is planning the same next year for the women. The retreat house is wonderful, the chapel is in the Byzantine tradition- stunning. For more information, email danmarengo@aol.com.

  37. MaryofSharon says:

    A treasure of a retreat house in western Pennsylvania is the St. Thomas More House of Prayer which can be found at http://www.liturgyofthehours.org/. They don’t have a lot of retreats there, although the Community of St. John (see above comes there 3 or 4 times a year) to direct a retreat. But it’s a fantastic place for some prayer alone.

    The new retreat center was built and is run by the Hepler family. The Heplers also own The Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company, through which they were able to get access to all the gorgeous wood throughout the retreat house. The lumber company is currently involved in a lawsuit against the federal government over the HHS mandate, so all the more reason to support them by a visit to the center.

    The center was built with a primary goal of promoting the Liturgy of the Hours. Whether you attend by yourself or with a group, every participates in the hours. There is always someone there to lead you in the Divine Office. There is a beautiful, if not a little rustic, chapel with a lifesize crucifix. The center is tucked in the Allegheny mountains with acres and acres of forest in which you can walk in unspoiled creation. In addition they have an amazing library of hundreds of the works of Church doctors, saints, and other timeless Catholic classics.

  38. jfk03 says:

    For silent retreats, I recommend Mt. Tabor (Holy Transfiguration) Monastery, Redwood Valley, CA. This monastery is affiliated with the Ukranian Green Catholic Church, and is under the St. Nicholas Eparchy, Chicago. This is a very traditional Eastern Catholic monastery where the Divine Liturgy is sung in the Orthodox tradition. A beautiful setting in the mountains. The rustic church looks very rustic and has a nice set of bells. I believe the retreat master is Br. Andrew. They do have a website.
    This is a good place for a very contemplative retreat. The monks are very welcoming, but they are focused on the contemplative life.

  39. Texas trad says:

    I have attended two Ignatian Retreats in Los Gatos, California under Father Emily. He is wonderful and the 5 day silent retreat is life changing. It is SSPX, but is not self promoting at all. It is beautifully situated among the vineyards in the area, with large areas for walking and contemplation. St. Aloysius has men’s and women’s retreat several times a year and the cost is minimal. Meals are very nicely prepared and they can cater to special needs. Retreats can be viewed at SSPX.com.

  40. Mamma B says:

    Holy Theophany is a community of nuns of the Romanian Catholic church (Eastern Rite) that offers weekend retreats. I believe that the retreats are for women only. They are in Washington state. http://holytheophanymonastery.org/

  41. David Collins says:

    People, there is a difference between “weather” and “whether”. Whether or not you enjoy this post does not depend on the weather outside.

  42. My community, the Legionaries of Christ, offers traditional silent Ignatian spiritual exercises at various locations. Often we rent retreat centers but we have our own in Detroit and DC.

    Detroit: http://www.queenofthefamily.org

    DC: ourladyofbethesda.org

  43. The Masked Chicken says:

    “People, there is a difference between “weather” and “whether”. Whether or not you enjoy this post does not depend on the weather outside.”

    I donno…I suspect that a tornado outside of my window might not allow me to enjoy your post very much :)

    The Chicken

  44. David Collins says:

    Oh, dear. You are correct, Masked Chicken; given how flimsy chicken coops are, a tornado can be worrisome.

  45. a catechist says:

    Broom Tree Retreat Center in eastern South Dakota. Controlled by the bishop/diocese and 100% labyrinth-free! Very orthodox and well-trained retreat masters only. The Masses are Novus Ordo, but in a very reverent manner in a beautiful church. They do long & short Ignatian retreats, as well as various others. Fr. Scott Trainer is especially good & experienced directing seminarians and priests, as well as lay people. Their policy since founding is to turn no one away for lack of funds. If natural beauty matters, the place looks just exactly like the location of the film “Dances With Wolves”, too.

  46. loriann says:

    I live in Ontario, Canada and I wonder if anyone knows of any good retreat locations here. We have lots of loopy so called retreat centres and I would love to go on a solid retreat. Thanks.

  47. theroamingroman says:

    Well, I highly recommend the Shellbourne Center in Valparaiso, IN. It is run by Opus Dei and they have many directed retreats for women, men, students (college and high school), clergy throughout the year. I suppose this may not qualify totally as “traditional” by some people’s criteria though since while the retreat was very orthodox and prayerful, at least when I was there they celebrated NO.

    Website: http://www.shellbourne.org/

    When I went, I flew into Chicago and was picked up by someone from one of the women’s houses in Chicago. I and a few other retreat attendees were then given a free ride to/from the retreat center making my weekend experience entirely painless. :)

  48. Melody says:

    I know the location sounds unlikely, but the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles are quite traditional.

  49. Melody says:

    P.S. I should have added that they run a retreat house as one of their means of support.

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