By Susan Flansburg
God knocks at our door, but for many people, our lives are too preoccupied for us to be able to hear. — Cardinal Basil Hume
Tucked away from the bustle and commotion of city streets, businesses and worries, Benet House Retreat Center at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Ill., welcomes the spiritual traveler with the promise of rest, nourishment and quiet. On retreat from your everyday life, you can hear — and answer — the knock at your door.
“Benet House was built in 2001 when the Benedictine Sisters moved from Nauvoo to Rock Island,” retreat director Sr. Charlotte Sonneville, OSB, says. “It was built as ‘a place apart’ to seek God. We welcome people of all faiths individually or in groups, to enjoy solitude or engage in a wide variety of retreats.”
The grounds promote inner peace and rest. Whether viewed from a window or a bench along a path, the seasons settle with grace and beauty upon trees, fields and lake. Deer browse the grasses and birds fill the trees with song.
Song fills the monastery chapel just steps away from the retreat house, too, where guests are welcome to join the Benedictine Sisters at lauds, noonday prayer, vespers and Eucharist.
Originally 7,700 square feet, Benet House attracted more guests than could always be accommodated. In response, the Sisters added another 5,100 square feet to the building in 2009. The addition includes more meeting space, guest rooms, a library and a hermitage. The hermitage — a secluded apartment with its own patio and access — provides a greater measure of solitude and sanctuary for those who wish to retreat more completely for a minimum of three days.
Group retreats and programs provide a variety of offerings, from an upcoming weekend retreat on prayer to half-day programs on grace and Advent. Private retreats allow people to follow their own spiritual paths with reading, journaling, quietly listening to music and walking the grounds. Directed retreats include spiritual direction, with accredited spiritual directors.
Upcoming programs and retreats include weekend, daytime and evening events. Prayer of Mind, Body and Spirit, Sept. 10-11, will explore devotional, meditative, centering and contemplative prayer styles under the direction of Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB. A book club will discuss “The Shack” on Thursdays mornings beginning Sept. 9 with Sister Helen Carey, OSB. Evening at the Monastery series will begin Sept. 23.
For a complete listing of retreats and programs, visit www.smmsisters.org, or call (309) 283-2108.