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: “God, Sex and the Meaning of Life”: Come explore the beauty and power of the Theology of the Body

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The Archdiocese of Denver extends an invitation to explore the beauty and power of the Theology of the Body while bringing healing and sight to the blindness of our modern culture’s beliefs in sexuality at the Theology of the Body Conference, which will take place Saturday, March 14, at Light of the World Parish in Littleton from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Early registration ends Jan. 31 and includes lunch and workshop materials for $40.

“God, Sex and the Meaning of life” is a full introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that will engage the audience with a complete understanding of God’s plan for humanity. The keynote speaker for this conference, Bill Donaghy, will be sharing his own experiences as husband, father, former high school teacher and child of God.

“If you have a pulse, if you’re human, if you’re alive, you should attend,” Donaghy told the Denver Catholic. “I’m giving an introduction. It’s the wide scope, 30,000-foot view of what the teaching [Theology of the Body] is. It’s literally for every man and woman, every vocation, single, married, celibate, divorced, wherever your state in life is, wherever you are right now, this is a day that zeroes in on human identity.”

Donaghy is the Senior Lecturer and Content Specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute, and a well-known international speaker. He worked for nearly a decade teaching theology while giving talks, retreats, and conferences for the institute. Since 1999, he has worked in the fields of mission and evangelization throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

Donaghy will encourage attendees to see the redemption of sexuality as the key to happiness, uncovering the truth behind the lies of lust and pornography and how they can be overcome.

“It’s about getting grounded again in my own incarnation, my masculinity, my femininity. Our culture right now is sort of cerebral, it’s kind of living in the head or maybe just living in the feelings, the outliers,” he said. “[The] theology of our body says, ‘come home to your body, your body is not an alien, it’s not an enemy that you manipulate or change.’ Theology of the Body helps us come home to our own bodies. It’s a beautiful homecoming.”

The conference will also feature a Spanish track with Evan Lemoine, Founder of “Amar al Máximo.” Lemoine is a recognized international speaker on the Theology of the Body, sexuality, courtship, and marriage. He is a graduate from the Master’s Program on Marriage and Family in the John Paul II Institute in Mexico City, where he was later a post-grad professor. He is also a graduate from the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia, where he has specialized on the vision and teachings of John Paul II. He has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Louisiana State University with a Minor in Psychology, and a Masters in Humanities from the Anahuac University in Mexico City.

This one-day conference is intended for all people college-aged and above. A study guide is included and may be used afterward for follow-up adult faith formation Theology of the Body studies.

“Sexuality is literally the image of God, man and woman,” Donaghy concluded. “He created us. Be not afraid. Come to a day that helps you answer fundamental questions: Who am I? How do I live?”

Theology of the Body Conference

Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m.
Light of the World Parish, Littleton
$40 Early bird thru Jan. 31
More information and registration: archden.org/TOB-CONFERENCE/