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: Repenting and renewing our role as shepherds

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Jesus tells the disciples in St. John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” contrasting his goodness with the thieves who come only to steal and destroy.  This past week my fellow U.S. bishops and I sought to act as good shepherds by approving three measures to increase our vigilance and prevention of the evil of sexual abuse by bishops, shepherds who have betrayed the flock entrusted to them.

This last weekend we celebrated Father’s Day, which should remind biological and spiritual fathers of their great responsibility of protecting and raising up new life. This mission is further emphasized by the Rite for the Ordination of a Bishop, which says, “In the Church entrusted to you, be a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them, and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.” This is the model for all bishops.

But the scandals of Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Bransfield and others have made it clear that our vigilance has not been adequate. To quote from the just-issued “Affirming Our Episcopal Commitment” statement, “We, the bishops of the United States, have heard the anger expressed by so many within and outside of the Church over these failures.  The anger is justified; it has humbled us, prompting us into self-examination, repentance, and a desire to do better.” This sentiment was clear in my interactions with my fellow bishops in Baltimore this past week.

As evidence of our commitment, we overwhelmingly passed a set of directives for the bishops’ conference to implement Pope Francis’ Vos estis lux mundi document on handling abuse by priests and bishops. These directives include the creation by May 31, 2020 of a third-party phone and online system that receives reports of potential violations by bishops, the establishment of a protocol in which the Holy See designates and authorizes metropolitan archbishops to investigate cases of alleged abuse by bishops, and the expectation that the investigating bishop involve lay experts in assisting with these inquiries. For any investigations that falls under my jurisdiction, I will ensure that lay experts are involved, as I’ve done throughout my time as a bishop. As the new directives indicate, I will also appoint a lay person to receive complaints from the third-party reporting system, publicize how to make reports, ascertain the credibility of reports and gather any additional information necessary for an investigation to commence.

I also want to highlight that the bishops overwhelmingly approved protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons and that we adopted a code of conduct for bishops, which explicitly states that the Dallas Charter will now include bishops.

All these measures are in addition to those we have been enforcing since 2002 in relation to preventing sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Archdiocese of Denver has a strong track record of actively working to protect children, including annual audits, background checks of employees and clergy, and a code of conduct that previous bishops and I have all signed, and a robust training program aimed at fostering safe environments for children. The effectiveness of these measures over the past 20 years has made us a model for other institutions seeking to combat abuse.

Pope Francis rightly noted in a January 2019 personal letter to the U.S. bishops that the consequences of our failures cannot be fixed by being administrators of new programs or committees.  They can only be resolved by humility, listening, self-examination and conversion.

My brother bishops and I hope that by obeying the Word of God, seeking the will of the Father and embracing what the Church expects of us, we will imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Read more

Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi can be read at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190507_vos-estis-lux-mundi.html

The USCCB Directives implementing Vos estis can be read at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/2019-june-meeting/upload/usccb-modified-amended-directives-2019-06.pdf

Reach out

Christi Sullivan serves as the Protection Specialist for the Office of Child and Youth Protection and can be reached at 303-715-3241 or Christi.Sullivan@archden.org.

Victims of abuse can reach out to Dr. Jim Langley, the Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 720-239-2832 or Victim.Assistance@ArchDen.org.