Fr. Tom Zelinski
Advice on structuring retreats
We used to keep our retreatants busy with a crowded schedule from the moment they arrived until the time they left. The problem with this is that our staff were so busy with the group facilitation that they weren’t available for individual conversations with participants, and the participants were so busy attending presentations and common prayer sessions that they didn’t have much time to rest or contemplate.
We decided to relax our retreat schedule to allow more time for participants to rest and reflect. We also have much of the weekend in silence, including meal times, and it has been very valuable to teach people how to be quiet, and the value of silence. Many people embrace this, and others feel uncomfortable in silence, but we have found that this practice is beneficial for everyone. We encourage people to try staying in silence instead of socializing in the breaks between sessions, and listening to what is going on inside.