The farthest I’ve ever traveled to go on retreat was about 2,000 miles. For the Spiritual Life Institute, it was either there or Nova Scotia, about a thousand miles in another direction. Every other time, it’s within a day’s drive of home. I prefer monasteries and isolated retreat houses.
When I read this story of Cardinal Dolan being asked to host an interfaith gathering to explore reconciliation in his hometown, it occurred to me he’s taking the poke about “airport bishops” seriously. No more Irish visitations to drop the blame on gays in seminaries, I thought.
I noticed this bit in the news item:
Dolan, now headed to Australia for a spiritual retreat, said he was grateful for the mayor’s invitation.
“Religion and faith are powerful agents for what is good and unifying in the spirit,” Dolan said in a statement.
Australia? Halfway around the world for a retreat? I wonder if such things are encouraged for his diocesan clergy. There aren’t some Jesuits or Benedictines nearby? Maybe it’s an extraordinary experience. Hopefully unlike the Napa Institute where the Catholic equivalent of the spiritually-rich-n-famous rub shoulders for $400 a night.
I think there’s more to be said for simple surroundings, closeness to nature, and home-cooked meals. One director. No group conferences. Preferably lots of silence.
Over the past five years especially, I’ve found it’s not unreasonable to expect significant changes and insights while on retreat. I wonder if bishops have similar experiences. I wonder if a bishop has ever returned from a serious retreat and been moved to life-changing actions and attitudes.