By Sam Lucero
CHAMBERS ISLAND, Wis. — Silence. Water splashing the rocky shoreline. Silence. Birds chirping in the distance. More silence. Welcome to Chambers Island, home of Holy Name Retreat House. If you’ve been to a retreat on the 2,800-acre island, located seven and one-half miles north of Fish Creek in Door County, you know the sounds well. If you’ve never been to the Diocese of Green Bay’s retreat house — or perhaps never even heard of it — now is the time to consider an investment in solitude.
In recent years Holy Name Retreat House has been facing an uncertain future due to a sputtering economy and drop in retreat participants. Karen Wautlet, a member of Holy Name’s board of directors, acknowledged that bringing in new people is crucial to the facility’s livelihood.
“I think one of our biggest challenges is to present a program for next year that will draw a larger variety of people,” she said. “We are looking at doing a couples retreat and a mother-daughter retreat.”
Another possibility would be retreats with people studying the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, she added.
Holy Name opened as a diocesan retreat house in the summer of 1951. Comprised of 60 acres of island property, the retreat house was gifted to the diocese by George Baudhuin. Retreats are held each year from April to September. The island is uninhabited during winters. Since Holy Name Retreat House is located on an island, retreatants meet in Fish Creek and take a 45-minute ride aboard the facility’s boat, the Quo Vadis.
“The natural beauty up here is just incredible,” said Green Bay Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau, who has been leading retreats at Holy Name for 35 years. “The fact that silence is pretty well maintained by the people, it’s a very nice feature of the retreat.” The retreat experience on Chambers Island is “grounded in creation,” noted Bishop Morneau.
Dona Schmitt, who has attended retreats at Chambers Island for 20 years, said Holy Name Retreat House helps her to reconnect with God. “God is really here,” she said. “I think the quietness gives you a chance to hear God speaking and hear what’s inside. You also have a chance to get away from the busy-ness of the world, the noise that goes on and the stuff that goes on in our lives … It’s so serene and beautiful. It’s a little taste of paradise.”
To register for a retreat or to learn more about Holy Name Retreat House, contact Barbara Conder at (920) 493-2797 or visit the Web site www.gbdioc.org/holyname.
(Sam Lucero is editor of The Compass, newspaper of the Green Bay Diocese. This article is shared with permission.)