Get away to pray: Encounter God at one of these retreat places near Denver this summer

Beyond the never-ending debate of whether summer is better than winter or vice versa, there is no doubt that the green, flowers and fauna of the warmer days of the year provide a unique experience for family time, outdoor activities and prayer.

Fortunately, the Archdiocese of Denver has been blessed with numerous retreat sites surrounded by silence and beauty that are available to Denver Catholics. So, consider going on an individual or group retreat to one of these sites and encounter the Creator through the beauty of creation.

Regina Caeli Hermitage

“Soaked with a monastic spirit” and located in a silent valley of western Littleton, the Regina Caeli Hermitage sits amidst the beauty of the Rocky Mountains — and at a convenient distance for Denver residents.

This property welcomes both individuals and groups throughout the year for retreats. Run by the community of the Brothers of Saint John, who follow the footsteps of the Beloved Disciple through prayer, study fraternal charity, and teaching and preaching, the hermitage counts with a big retreat center and two cabins.

The Dome House has 20 beds, eight rooms and a bathroom on each of the three floors, a spacious library that can be used as a conference hall, kitchen, refectory and chapel.

The other two individual cabins, named “Patience” and “Faithfulness,” are for “brave souls,” since, due to their rustic nature, they provide a unique experience for those who wish to “go to the desert” like the first Christian monks. They are equipped with a bed, desk, chapel and wood stove to stay warm during the winter months. Bathrooms and a kitchen are available in the Dome House.

The Brothers of Saint John acquired the property from Father Roger Mollison in 2002, a priest from the Archdiocese of Denver, in order to have a place of retreat for their novices during their required two months of “desert” or silent retreat.

For a calendar of availability and to stay tuned on future retreats organized by the Brothers, visit rchermitage.org.

Mother Cabrini Shrine

Not many dioceses can offer a place where the faithful can walk and reflect in the footsteps of a saint. Here in Denver, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parish offers that and more.

This popular retreat site offers opportunities for group and individual retreats and for overnight or day retreats. The historic three-story Stone House that was commissioned to be built by St. Frances Xavier is available for overnight group retreats. It features 10 bedrooms, 28 twin beds, chapel, sunroom and great room for presentations.

The Hermitage is available for overnight individual retreats or one- to three-people retreats. It gives an experience that is “remote” and “isolated.” It features a great view of the Statue of the Sacred Heart, living room with kitchenette, one bedroom and one bathroom. For people seeking an individual or group day retreat, the shrine also offers opportunities. Groups can book a conference room, a chapel, the Hermitage or the Stone House, and order meals. Individuals can enjoy their self-guided retreat in the quiet and beautiful places, including the prayer garden and the stations of the cross leading up to the 22-foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

To book your next retreat, visit mothercabrinishrine.org.

Jesus Our Hope Hermitage

Located on South Creek Road in Littleton, Jesus Our Hope Hermitage is a great place for those looking to find God in silence and nature near the Mile-High City.

The hermitage is directed by the Community of the Beatitudes of Denver, and features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a full kitchen, a meeting room that can fit up to 20 people and a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament.

Devoid from all modern technological distractions, the hermitage’s 62 acres of rugged woodland allow for a restful and prayerful stay for individuals or groups.

The piece of land on which the hermitage rests was purchased by Father Roger Mollison in the early ‘90s, who dreamed of providing a safe place away from the distractions of daily life where people could encounter God.

The Community of the Beatitudes continues that mission by providing spiritual guidance or private Mass if requested with anticipation and “Come and Rest” days for groups seeking guided reflection.

As the site’s website suggests, “Whether you walk the trails, sit quietly in the gazebo or find a spot [you discovered], the solitude and beauty of nature is a constant reminder of the love God has for this earth, for each of us, and for you in particular. God will speak to you there and you will return to your daily life blessed and renewed.”

Visit jesus-our-hope.org for more information.

Annunciation Heights

Providing one of the most beautiful views of Longs Peak, the Archdiocese of Denver’s new adventure camp, located 10 miles south of Estes Park, rightfully carries the mission of providing a place where people can encounter the Creator through the beauty of creation.

The fun activities and programs offered for kids, families and schools year-round are all directed to this goal. The Summer Camp programs for 4th to 12th graders include activities such as hiking, climbing and zip-lining, along with daily Mass, formation and prayer. While Annunciation Heights is not available for individual retreats, it is possible to book for group retreats for adults or young men, women and other Catholic groups.

Even more, the staff continuously strives to be witnesses of what Christian hospitality should look like. And for those who truly seek to get away, there is no cellphone coverage, which helps to enter into the experience, instead of checking social media or work emails. Wi-Fi, we must say, is available for retreat leaders and emergencies.

Whether you want to send your kid to summer camp or go on retreat with your parish group or your family, Annunciation Heights is a great option. The archdiocese invested in a place to make it available to the faithful — use it!

For more info visit annunciationheights.org

COMING UP: Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

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Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

Volunteers gathered nearly 50,000 signatures for Initiative 120 within two-week cure period

Aaron Lambert

In a final push, supporters of the initiative seeking to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks in the state of Colorado have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

During a two-week cure period granted after falling short of required signatures to get Initiative 120 on the ballot, over 400 volunteers worked diligently and collected over 48,000 signatures by May 28, nearly three times the amount sought during the cure period. The Due Date Too Late campaign spearheaded the charge to gather signatures with support from Catholic Charities’ Respect Life Office and other pro-life communities across the state.

“I am overjoyed to hear that so many Coloradans have signed the petition to successfully place Initiative 120 on the November ballot,” said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who expressed his support for the initiative early on. “Protecting children in the womb is an essential part of building a society that treats all life, no matter its age or ability, as sacred. God has given each person a dignity that comes from being made in his image and likeness, and the degree to which our laws reflect that will be the degree to which we experience true freedom and happiness.”

Initiative 120 would prohibit abortion in Colorado after 22 weeks, with an exception for the life of the mother. According to a recent Gallup poll, 74% of Americans believe that there should be limitations on late term abortion. Due Date Too Late submitted the bulk of the needed petition signatures in March but fell short 10,000 signatures after review by the Secretary of State. The cure period began on May 15, with Due Date Too Late needing to collect those 10,000 additional verified signatures of registered Colorado voters during the 15-day cure period to meet the 124,632 threshold and qualify for the November ballot.

“We are thrilled to take this next step towards protecting lives in Colorado by exceeding our goal of signatures we are turning into the Secretary of State,” said Lauren Castillo, spokesperson for the Due Date Too Late campaign. “We are thankful to have this opportunity to work together with communities across the entire state of Colorado. The hundreds of volunteers we have who are so passionate about ending late-term abortion are helping to make this a reality.”

Due Date Too Late will be turning in the notarized packets containing almost 50,000 signatures on May 29 at 2 p.m. to the office of the Secretary of State to assure that the ballot initiative will meet the statutory threshold.

The field collection effort by Due Date Too Late went forward amid a recent executive order by Gov. Jared Polis regarding how petition signatures may be collected. Under Gov. Polis’ order, he declared that ballot initiatives could gather signatures electronically in response to the coronavirus pandemic; however, Initiative 120 was the only ballot initiative that wasn’t allowed to collect signatures electronically because it was in a cure period.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated over 30,000 signatures were being turned in, based on the information that was available at the time of publication. The actual number is closer to 50,000. The story has been updated to reflect this fact.