John Paul II Center - Milwaukee

How to select a retreat location

Jesus told his disciples to come away to a deserted place and rest awhile. Go away for your retreat day. Yes, it does cost more and it takes some driving to get to the retreat center, but the benefits of the day are much greater than if you would have used the parish or school facility to have your retreat. When you drive down the (usually treelined) drive of any of the recommended locations in this resource, you will notice how immediately you sense yourself in a different kind of place…holy ground. Your breathing begins to slow, your body begins to relax, and your being begins to open to the Sacred.

Retreat centers, whether in the midst of an urban area or deep in the country, experience God’s loving embrace through nature. Connected to a walled garden, an open field, or a pine grove, the retreat center is grounded in creation and decorates with God’s palette. Nature brings us back to our creatureliness and shifts us back into right relationship with the Creator. In all seasons natural beauty is a balm for our tired, depleted spirits. As one spiritual writer said, “Beauty saves. Beauty heals. Beauty motivates. Beauty unites….Beauty allows us to forget the pain and dwell on the joy.

”When we stay at the school or parish for our retreat day, we haven’t retreated anywhere. During quiet time teachers sneak back to their classrooms, business administrators check their e-mail, and Father takes a call from the parish council president. We have never really gotten away, and our everyday surroundings are so familiar, we don’t notice any beauty or nature that may in fact be there. We stay in our same professional roles and relationships. The topic and speaker may be excellent, but we never shed the burden of everyday cares; we never open ourselves to meet God in new and surprising ways.

Retreat centers have taken up Martha/Mary ministry and they do it well. They have designed a comfortable place, they feed you nutritious meals, your speaker comes prepared to share the treasures of our faith with you, and you are provided with quiet
reflection time. All you need to do is to show up, be fully present, and to listen for God to speak. What a gift of time and place!

All of the retreat centers listed in this guide are truly beautiful, holy places where thousands of seekers have gathered to reflect and pray! Some things to consider when booking your location:

  • How large is your group? Does the facility have a conference room large enough for your group to gather comfortably? Will you need break out rooms?
  • Will you retreat for one day or do an overnight? What are the sleeping accommodations? Are there individual or shared rooms? What is the schedule for meals?
  • Does your presenter require special equipment such as a TV/DVD player, wipe-off board, boom box, etc.? Note that there is often a charge to rent these items.
  • Will your retreat day include the celebration of Eucharist? Will you have a priest celebrant in your group? What is the availability of the chapel? Is there a nearby parish church? Can your group partake of Eucharist or the daily common prayer of your host community?
  • Are you planning time outdoors for your group? Are there outdoor prayer sites such as Stations of the Cross or a labyrinth?
  • All of these retreat centers are very busy hosting many groups. They all recommend that you book several months in advance, even a year, if possible. Time gets away on us, so if you find yourself in a pinch close to your desired date, do call, as sometimes other groups have cancelled.
  • Prices listed in this resource guide may vary depending on the arrival and departure time of your group and the number of meals requested. When you call to make your reservation, any adjustments to the standard price will be discussed. The prices listed are subject to change. We will attempt to update them yearly.
  • As you peruse the locations in this guide, be sure to use the link to the websites of the individual locations to see more pictures and to get more information.
  • Can your staff members carpool to the retreat center? (Be sure drivers have accurate directions!)
St. John Paul II Office for the New Evangelization

3501 South Lake Dr.
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912


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