18 May 2020, The Tablet

Going on a silent retreat in the age of lockdown

by Alfred Levitt

Going on a silent retreat in the age of lockdown

The "Cloisters on the Platte"
© The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation 2020

The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation, an Ignatian retreat facility in Gretna, Nebraska, recently announced it will offer an online retreat to support a global community of those seeking comfort and support during these challenging times. Running for 34 weeks, the retreat is adapted from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and tailored to people who are not able to make an in-person retreat. 

More than 10,000 members of the Cloisters Community are invited each Thursday to participate.  People who are not already members of the community can join for free by visiting the Cloisters on the Platte’s website. 

The Cloister’s online retreat draws from St. Ignatius’ practical approach, but rather than a weekend of silence, those making the online retreat are asked to place the retreat material each week into the background of their everyday lives.  This way, participants can make a retreat by exploring their own experiences and relationship with God while honouring current safety guidelines.

The retreat centre, open to people of all faiths, was gifted to the community by philanthropist Joe Ricketts. The campus consists of a chapel, modelled after St. Margaret Mary Church in Omaha, a retreat center, and seven guest lodges.

“We believe the teachings of St. Ignatius are more important now than ever as we face this unprecedented time of stress and dislocation,” said Joe Ricketts, Chairman of The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation.

Father Andy Alexander, who serves on the Board of the Cloisters on the Platte and co-authored this online adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius added, “We hope this online retreat brings comfort and helps those facing turbulent days.” 

Fourteen Stations of the Cross sculptures can also be found at the site, lining a 2,500-foot walking path, the equivalent length that Jesus carried the cross from Jerusalem to Golgatha, with each station designed to tell a story about Jesus’ life.

The retreats are based on St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises of prayer, silence, spiritual guidance, and contemplative reading of scripture. The centre provides a quiet setting for personal reflection about one's life and relationship with God. 

Alfred Levitt is the Secretary of The Cloisters on the Platte foundation, which is also on Facebook.

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