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Weekend Plus Silent Retreats

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633 Ridgebury Road

Slate Hill, NY 10973

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Good Conversations Matter

Good conversations matter. They may be our most essential human activities and surprisingly require, at times, silence. Our Weekends Plus Silent Retreats are conducted in silence so our conversations together later are fruitful, listening and not talking past each other or exchanging emails and texts and other one-sided communications. Otherwise, we may as well mumble when we drive up to a sign boldly stating, STOP.

Jesus was a master of conversation. Often he would ask questions and wait for a conversation to begin, but his audiences were too absorbed in their own thoughts and questions and not listening. Jesus also said that he only taught in parables, parallels between the things of this world and heaven. Many of his parables began, “What is the kingdom of heaven like”, and then he would describe a familiar experience expecting a response. He would close his parable-stories, saying, “those who have ears to hear ought to hear.” His Apostles, at first, and many in his audiences did not understand. There weren’t listening, and Jesus challenged them, saying, “those who have ears to hear ought to hear”. Jesus’ mother, however, was a good listener. When an angel told her that she would be the mother “of the Son of the Most High”, she listened and “pondered what sort of greeting this might be”. She was ready for a conversation with God and later told some servants at a wedding in Cana, “Do whatever he [my son] tells you”. When Jesus was at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha who was busy with her chores, Jesus told Martha that Mary who was listening to him had “the better part” of their visit together.

The “other part” of our Weekend Plus Silent Retreats will be learning and practicing the Office of the Hours which began with King David’s Psalms he and others in his court composed about 800 B.C. His Psalms referred to the Christ to come and the condition of humanity Jesus would find and assume for himself born in the House of David and later recognized among the Jews as the “Son of David.”

Catholic priests are obliged and the laity are encouraged to read, study and pray the Office of the Hours daily. This oldest practice and tradition of the Church began in the Old Testament and continued in the New Testament into our time. You can find references to these “hours” in the Gospels, for instance, when Peter and John went to the temple to pray at third hour, Daytime Hour of the Office. The Office includes other times: Morning, Evening, Nighttime and the Office of Readings. Many Jews and Muslims practice this as well, not the same as our's but similar in some respects. The Catholic Liturgy of the Hours includes readings from the New Testament, writings from the Fathers and saints of the Church. All of this encompasses our activities and conversations together.

Jesus began these conversations with Nicodemus who came one night to speak to Jesus. Jesus said, “we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen.” Nicodemus was incredulous, but after Jesus was crucified Nicodemus dared to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus for his burial. Nicodemus had learned to listen to Jesus and became one of his disciples.

The retreat house, originally built c.1709, was enlarged over many generations preserving within its walls pre-Revolutionary, Federal, neo-Classical and Victorian architectual elements. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places the house was recently featured in the New York Times column, "Great Homes and Designations".


How long are the retreats?

Two, three or four days beginning Friday morning or evening through Sunday, Monday or Tuesday afternoon. We will confirm your choice of retreat days by telephone after your registration form is completed.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Email:FatherTomSays@gmail or call (815) 793-7465 (Be sure to leave a message for a return call).

What is the retreat schedule?

Our retreats begin with Morning Mass. Our group activities include the readings and our discussions of the Church's ancient tradition of the Office of the Hours three times daily, morning, mid-day and mid-afternoon. At other times we maintain silence during the day except for ordinary conversation during meals. For those interested we will have daily classes on gardening, nutrition and making sourdough bread. Much of my garden provides food for our meals. At other times during the day you may do as you please, take a hike or walk our wooded farmlands, read or whatever else suits you.

My phone number (815) 793-7465 does not accept "unknown callers". You would have to email me at with your phone number so I may include you in my contact list. Cell phones are not permitted in the retreat house and may be left in your car or with the retreat director and will be returnen at the end of your retreat. The retreat house may be called with any emergency.

What will the retreat cost me?

Nothing or a good-will donation as you choose. "Freely you received and freely you should offer", as Jesus instructed his Apostles ( Matthew 10:8 ). Your retreat will include a private guest bedroom, meals and other amenities associated with a hotel stay ( except, of course, room service--its a retreat, after all ).

Other questions or requests

Email or call. You may have to leave a voicemail which I will return.

Final Note

Registration is required no later than three full days before a scheduled retreat begins ( open link top left side of page ) at which time, however, there may not be any tickets available. Our retreats are purposefully small for five to seven individuals or married couples. Register early. If later you cannot attend simply email me at as soon as possible.

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633 Ridgebury Road

Slate Hill, NY 10973

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