We are truly blessed to have the White House Retreat Center in our backyard. The center is run by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who are masters of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Spiritual Exercises are a series of scriptural meditations that lead retreatants into a profound reflection of Christ’s life and salvific ministry.
Every year, parishioners of St. Francis Solanus have the opportunity to attend these four-day silent retreats and connect with our Lord in a new and intentional way.
John Venegoni and Deborah Schulte have been attending and organizing these single-sex retreats for many years. John has attended the retreats for over three decades.
“The White House gives us the opportunity to listen to Christ,” John says. “The gift of silence is about quieting our hearts and minds so we can meet Christ in meditation.”
“The White House Retreat offers a quiet experience of God,” Deborah says. “Silence brings peace and shows us how little we actually need to talk in order to relate to Christ. There is a lot of nature on the campus that allows you to connect with and grow in relationships with Christ.”
This year, the men’s retreat is scheduled for Sept. 25 to 28, and the women’s retreat takes place Oct. 2 to 5. Both retreats start at noon. The cost is a free-will donation — the cost of room and board is $250, but by registering with the parish, the parish can cover any of the cost that is not donated.
The retreat schedule is simple. The four days are filled with personal prayer, Scripture meditation, spiritual direction, and 10 talks — called conferences — where the retreat master speaks about Jesus’ life and prompts attendees in the meditations.
“The retreat recharges my spiritual batteries,” John says. “It gives me the chance to push aside the challenges and distractions of the secular world.”
A major part of the retreat is the daily access to the Sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Mass is offered daily in the afternoon before dinner and Confession is available throughout. At the end of the retreat, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is offered to all who would like to experience healing of a physical or spiritual ailment.
“The sacraments are what makes us Catholic,” Deborah says. “The sacraments are necessary to grow in faith. It is how we experience Christ in a physical and real way.”
The White House Retreat is an amazing opportunity to remove yourself from the business of work and daily life and enter into the stillness and peace of Christ.
“Just as we see Jesus having to leave His ministry for prayer, we too, as His disciples, need to follow Him in this practice of retreat,” John says.
For more information or to register for the men’s retreat, email John Venegoni at email@example.com. For more information or to register for the women’s retreat, email Deborah Schulte at firstname.lastname@example.org.