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Summer isn’t just a great time for a vacation.
It’s also a wonderful season for a spiritual retreat or day of reflection.
Benedictine Sister Carol Falkner, administrator of the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center in Beech Grove, is excited about the ninth annual garden retreat and other summer programs offered by the Sisters of St. Benedict at their longtime retreat ministry adjacent to the monastery.
Although financial challenges required the sisters to close the Benedict Inn’s activity center with large pool, gymnasium and two meeting rooms on March 31, they are expanding their year-round programming at Palmer Hall, the main retreat center building which formerly housed the Our Lady of Grace Academy.
Palmer Hall features 10 air-conditioned meeting rooms, four spiritual direction rooms, Madonna Chapel, an art room, overnight accommodations, hospitality areas, a full-service cafeteria with dining room, a library and the Shop-Innspired gift shop.
“It’s a very prayerful space,” Sister Carol said. “We have been offering programs as a retreat center since 1981 for the people of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”
The Benedict Inn’s scenic grounds cover 50 acres in Beech Grove, and include a gazebo, labyrinth, and paved walking trails through the trees and gardens.
“People will come here and inevitably say, ‘It is so peaceful here,’ ” Sister Carol said. “We have enough acreage to create a little oasis in the middle of the urban environment, and that’s exactly what we want to do.
“We have a lovely and peaceful place for people to come, enjoy spiritual programs, meditate and be with God,” she said. “We want to put a lot of emphasis on people’s spiritual journeys and their spiritual growth. As a Benedictine community who owns and operates the Benedict Inn, we want to share our charisms of hospitality and spirituality. We are working on creating programs that will attract people of all ages and enhance their lives.”
On June 7, the sisters are presenting “Woman Talk–To Begin Your Decorating Journey, Start with Something You Love.”
Interior designer Margaret Nierman will offer easy, affordable ideas to transform living spaces.
It’s a creative departure from traditional retreat programs, explained Benedictine Sister Joan Marie Massura, director of programs, as well as a fun way to help people learn how light, color, space and texture can brighten homes and moods.
“New Perspectives–Gardening with God at the Monastery,” the center’s ninth annual garden retreat offered on June 13 or June 14 on the monastery grounds, features a different speaker each day, and includes breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
“Sowing the Seed,” presented by Benedictine Sister Cathy Anne Lepore on June 13, will discuss how flower gardens can enhance people’s senses, imaginations and hearts as spiritual havens and places to encounter God.
“The Spirituality of the Garden,” offered by master gardener Angela Herrmann on June 14, will explore how gardens can teach people about God’s creation as well as how to “grow” healthy relationships.
“These programs are unique to what we can offer people,” Sister Joan Marie said. “We sponsor programs and also host programs where people can rent our facility and come here for a day retreat or just to walk on the grounds and use the labyrinth. The facility is ecumenical and open to everyone. We do a lot of programs for women since we are a women’s community, but we have both men and women here for our programs. We put a lot of emphasis on prayer and Scripture.”
As their program brochures explain, people are invited to come to the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center to “relax, revive, renew, refresh, reflect and rejuvenate,” and in doing so to find “peace of mind, body and spirit.”
Those are welcome activities in any season.
(For more information about summer programs at the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center, log on to www.benedictinn.org.) †