Which retreat is right for me?
Why go on retreat?
Retreats open up a wonderful space for God to work in you and with you. They might help find direction in your life or might simply help you to feel more grounded in yourself. Most of all, retreats are an opportunity to spend more time with God, to listen to God, with your retreat guide there to help you in that process. See where God takes you!
No matter which retreat you choose, we think flexibility is important and because most of our retreats are one-to-one, they can often 'customise' a retreat to bear what you want in mind. If you have a retreat guide, you can talk to them in your initial meeting about what you need most, so do bear that in mind.
Types of retreat
We offer four main types of retreat experience which are available online this year – you can meet with the retreat guide via video call software.
Retreats in Daily life: These can take place over 6 weeks or over a week. If you are on a retreat for a week, you will meet with your prayer guide every day at a time of mutual convenience and be asked to spend 30 minutes to an hour in prayer every day of that week. As the retreat is ‘in daily life’ you are not expected to stop working or other commitments, as long as you can commit to spending the time in prayer. If the retreat is over 6 weeks, you will normally meet with your guide once a week. Retreats in daily life are really ideal for very busy people who would find it hard to take more time out of their job or other responsibilities, and since we are offering these online, you won’t even need to leave the house! If you haven’t done a retreat before this might be a good place to start.
A Week of Guided Prayer: This is similar to a retreat in daily life, but the difference is that there’s really a focus on helping you to pray in new ways, or to deepen your prayer. This might mean being introduced to new methods of prayer and might involve some prayer workshops as well. You still have meetings with a prayer guide on a one-to-one basis though to talk about your prayer life. We offer weeks of guided prayer in lots of university chaplaincies and sometimes in parishes too. At the moment these are online as well!
Themed retreats may involve time for prayer, time to meet others in small groups to share, input from the leaders of the retreat, but there’s a theme (this could be – walking, mindfulness, art, poetry, film – there’s lots of variety!) For example, we are offering the online Truly Great Outdoors Retreat several times this year. These retreats are also a really good starting place if you’re not sure if retreats are for you. (Spoiler: they probably are, you just don’t know it yet.) St Beuno’s has lots of themed retreats to explore. Some are in silence, and others are not.
Individually Guided Retreats: whether online or in person, these retreats entail individual meetings with an experienced retreat guide. Generally, you are usually asked to clear space in your day for prayer (4-5 hours), so even if the retreat is online this might mean, for example, taking some time off work or moving as many commitments/distractions as you can. Why? Because we know it can take some real time for you to listen more closely to how God is calling you in your life. If this sounds a bit alarming, don’t worry! Our retreat guides are there to listen to you and guide you in the process. You can go on an Individually Guided Retreat for anything from a couple of days to 8 days. We would normally recommend that if you have never been on this type of retreat, a weekend retreat is a good place to start. The retreat guide will offer you scripture to pray with and prayer exercises, but most of all they will listen to you and help the retreat to go in the direction you – and God – need it to. These retreats are really helpful for people who want to take a step out of their normal routine, reflect on where their life is going and what God is calling them to do.
When our residential spirituality centre, St Beuno’s, is able to reopen in full, you will also have the option to travel there and stay overnight. St Beuno’s is a really beautiful, special place and has helped many people find God at work in their lives. (Read more about St Beuno’s.) Most of the retreats at St Beuno’s are held in silence except for the meetings with your spiritual director, although there are a few retreats which are themed, where you may be able to encounter others on retreat. The Ignatian Spirituality Centre in Glasgow offers some residential retreats, in association with some residential centres like Iona and Drumalis, and the London Jesuit Centre is going to be able to offer residential retreats at some stage in the future.
The Spiritual Exercises
You might have heard of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola…? All of our retreats are inspired by the Spiritual Exercises and may also involve some sections of the Exercises. You may at some point wish to do the Full Spiritual Exercises. We offer these in three main ways. 1) ‘the 30 days’ residentially at St Beuno’s or elsewhere, and online 2) in Stages – this is usually residential and can take place in ten day stretches over a few years, depending on what is going on for the person doing them and 3) in daily life (also known as the 19th Annotation). These can be done online or, depending on Covid restrictions in the future, you might be able to meet with a retreat guide based near you. If you are interested in this, we can help you find someone to give the Exercises. We ask people who wish to do the Exercises to make some discernment (with guidance) about how God is calling them to work in the world, and whether it is the right time in their lives to complete the Exercises. If your discernment leads you to embark on this journey, they are a significant commitment of time and effort, but immensely rewarding and meaningful.
All of our retreats cost money to run but online retreats are certainly more affordable and don’t involve travel costs for you or the retreat guides. St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre offers bursaries if cost is a problem for you. If you’ve been on one of our retreats or benefited from our online work, you can make a donation via our website.
Whichever type of retreat you choose, you will be supported by our team of spiritual directors and prayer guides throughout.