Last week, I made my annual priests retreat. Each year, I gather with a group of priests and some bishops for a retreat led by Eileen George. Eileen challenges us to strive for holiness by fidelity to regular confession, praying the Divine Office faithfully, devotion to Our Lady by praying the rosary, daily celebration of Holy Mass and spending serious time before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Everything she tells us, we already know, but always need those constant reminders.
The retreat is held at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Still River, MA. This is the original community founded by Fr. Leonard Feeney, SJ. Eventually part of the group decided to become Benedictines and the others remain Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Slaves have also broken up into different groups through the years, leaving two communities in Still River, one in New Hampshire and I have heard there are others in Ohio and California.
Anyway, the Benedictine Abbey and Still River are a beautiful setting for a retreat for priests or laity. The Benedictines are splendid hosts, always cheerful, welcoming and hospitable. The grounds are absolutely splendid. The Abbey sits above the valley that gives a view of Mt. Tom. Across the river behind the valley is the former Ft. Devens. Directly next door to the Abbey is St. Ann’s House, the Sisters of St. Benedict Center. Just a short way down the street is another group of Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, both Brothers and Sisters. The Brothers and Sisters run the Immaculate Heart of Mary School, publish a quarterly magazine “From the HouseTops” and the Brothers run a small gift shop. All of the groups are equally hospitable and friendly, a nice place for a retreat, day of recollection and just a little pilgrimage.
Here are a few pictures I took during the week.
The Abbey and chapel
Retreat house chapel
Graves of Fr. Leonard Feeney and Sr. Catherine Goddard Clarke
Altar of IHM School Chapel.
Most of the priests and two bishops who made the retreat.