Retreats and Recollection

Wasting time with God

Someone once described a retreat as ‘wasting time with God’ and who would not want to do that?

However, different people have different experiences of retreats. Some look back at school retreats with a mixture of memories both positive and negative. At Emmaus House they are sometimes called Treat Days or Desert Days.

Others come to retreats out of their own choice at another moment in their lives – maybe when a choice lies ahead of them.

The kinds of retreat are vast: individually guided, preached, walking, retreats incorporating paint, clay, music, dance and dreams. Retreats can be silent, part sharing… and so it goes on.

Am I alone or would I prefer to have someone there to listen or someone to suggest a passage from Scripture? How long should my retreat be? Three days? Five days? Eight days? Even the Spiritual Exercises of thirty days? It is even possible to embark upon this over a length of time and at my own pace.

And where will I go? There are retreat centres around the country (although less than there were). There are monasteries when we can partake in the prayer life and the liturgy of the community. In our own diocese these vary from monasteries to small houses, and retreat and days of reflection are available with or without spiritual accompaniment. Some are organised (or can be by these centres), others are for individuals to take time and space as is needed. You’ll find a list of what is available in the diocesan directory.


Ammerdown Centre, Radstock

Bernardine Sisters in Brownshill, near Stroud

Butleigh House of Prayer, Glastonbury

Emmaus House, Whitchurch, Bristol

Marist Retreat Centre, Nympsfield, Gloucestershire

Alabare House of Prayer, Salisbury


Dulverton Centre (for school, family and groups of young people)

St Benet’s, Downside Abbey (accommodation for student groups)


Elsie Briggs House of Prayer, Westbury-on-Trym

Abbey House, Glastonbury.