Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Looking for a spiritual uplift or upcoming retreats in Connecticut? Then look no further than the Divine Trail, a new Web site that serves as an information source and directory of retreat centers, spiritual workshops, conference centers and camps in the state.

Launched in February, the Connecticut Divine Trail (www.divinetrail.org) provides an online map of 15 Christian retreat centers with a link to those sites – all via the Internet.

“I was looking at a magazine article on the Connecticut Wine Trail and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a divine trail so people would know about the range of retreat opportunities we have in the state?’” said Bernadette Vance, administrator at Immaculate Conception Spiritual Renewal Center in Putnam and originator of the project.

She contacted retreat directors at other centers and the idea of bringing retreat centers together as a community caught on.

“We joined together to raise awareness about these retreat resources that are scattered nicely throughout the state,” said Brandon Nappi, associate retreat director at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center in West Hartford, the largest parish-based retreat center in the United States.

“For a long time, retreat centers were one of the best kept secrets in Connecticut. But I think, per capita, we have more retreat centers than anywhere else in the world,” he said, enabling guests to be in “a silent, tranquil, peaceful setting” within a half an hour.

Ms. Vance echoed the thought. “People today are so busy with so many competing distractions from jobs and families to computers, iPhones and games,” she said.

“Retreats offer an opportunity to get away from the distractions of life and find a quiet space where they can grow in their relationship with God,” she said.

“Connecticut is blessed to have so many retreat locations, each with a different focus, environment and amenities that appeal to a variety of people, interests and needs,” she added. Examples, she said, are walking trails; water views; chapels; shrines; Ignatian programs; silent and directed retreats; speakers; teen events; and day, weekend or extended retreats.

She noted that some people have the misconception that retreat centers are for religious communities. But, as a priest friend told Ms. Vance, “Retreat centers are hospitals for sinners, not hotels for saints.”

As the Web site continues to evolve, the new community of retreat centers plans to add more features to help visitors find retreats, workshops and events, or just a quiet place to go and pray.