A retreat is a personal encounter with God through a balance of prayer, reflection, silence, solitude, engagement with the natural surroundings and grace. A retreat recognises our deepest need for communion; to listen deeply to the quiet voice of God speaking in our hearts and to recognise the presence of God in our experiences. A retreat is a precious time to think, pray and reflect on ‘who I am, what I am, where I am’ in relation to God, self, others, and the world; bringing renewal, refreshment and nourishment for body, mind and spirit.
For centuries, the Christian tradition has understood a retreat to be an important part of the spiritual life. Time, consciously set aside in a quiet place, where all our senses are open and ready to listen to God.
St Alphonsus was very conscious of the importance that retreats and spiritual exercises play in the life of people; and in particular for priests and religious. Following St Alphonsus’ lead and example, Redemptorists “must show special concern for priests. They must try to strengthen their faith and sustain their hope in the midst of today’s pastoral conditions.” (Stat 015)
Retreats and spiritual exercises for various groups such as priests, religious, laity, students, teachers, and seminarians are preached by Redemptorists all over the world. Many Redemptorist units have especially dedicated ‘retreat centres’; offering people from all walks of life a spiritual oasis, where they can “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mk 6:31)
Through retreat ministry, Redemptorists seek to “make every effort to bring people to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation.” (Stat 020)