COVID-19 PANDEMIC UPDATE
The Guest House and Convent remain closed, but most of our retreats have been re-designed as online retreats. The description below will apply AFTER we open again.
Note: Once the Guest House reopens, we will offer a choice to attend retreats or courses online or in person.
Throughout the year, we offer a program of multi-day retreats (either guided or silent directed) and single day retreats called quiet days covering a variety of themes. As its name suggests, “Food for the Soul” is designed to feed the hungry spirit while encouraging growth, healing, and wholeness.
All multi-day or single day retreats at St. John’s Convent take place in the milieu of a contemporary monastic community with a daily rhythm of prayer. All guests are invited to take part in the daily Eucharist, and those staying overnight may like to join us in the Divine Office (Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline). See the regular chapel schedule.
We have expanded our Food for the Soul offerings to include on-line courses. You can now choose from Day Retreats, Multi-Day Retreats or on-line courses. Please see below for descriptions of our retreats and courses.
These are one-day retreats, beginning with coffee and conversation at 9:30 am and ending by 4 pm. Each focuses on a particular theme. The retreat leader gives two or three short talks during the day, leaving ample time for prayer and personal reflection, and the opportunity to join the Sisters for the noon Eucharist.
There is an opportunity for quiet conversation over a bag lunch or, for an additional fee, a hot (silent) dinner in the Refectory with the Sisters. Fees are listed in the description for each Quiet Saturday. Full payment is required with registration.
Upcoming Quiet Saturdays are included in the list of all retreats.
Quiet Garden Days
Enjoy some time for rest, reflection and prayer in the Convent courtyard, labyrinth, gardens and walks, beginning with coffee and conversation at 9:30 am and ending by 4 pm.
Inspired by the Quiet Garden Trust in England, these are days to relax, renew, and rest in the beauty of God’s outdoors, as well as to enjoy the Sisters’ chapel and library. In case of rain, there is plenty of space indoors to wander, sit, dream, and pray.
A Sister will give a brief introduction with suggestions for how to use your day, you can join the Sisters for the noon Eucharist, and the day ends with a brief gathering for sharing and reflection.
Fees (and deposits where applicable) are listed in the individual descriptions. Full payment is required with registration.
See the schedule of upcoming Quiet Garden Days.
The Quiet Garden Trust
“The ancient tradition of silent contemplation is as important to the modern mind as it was to those of our forebears – and the Quiet Garden Movement has been facilitating the practice of mindful contemplation for the past 25 years, in gardens across the world…”Dr. Rowan Williams
The Quiet Garden Prayer
Oh Lord Jesus
work in us what you want of us,
For you are indeed the true gardener
at once, maker and tiller and keeper of your garden
you who plant with the word,
water with the spirit
and give your increase with your power.
– Cisterician Guerric of Igny, 12th century
These overnight retreats focus on a particular theme and include four or five talks over the course of two days, with ample time for personal reflection, reading, walking, and prayer. Participants are invited to join the Sisters for chapel services. Meals are eaten in silence, and the Guest House is a place of silence during the retreat.
Retreats may last two or more days, beginning with Evening Prayer at 5 pm on the first day and ending with Holy Eucharist and a midday meal on the last day. We limit the number of participants for retreats, so register early. A non-refundable deposit is required for all our retreats.
The fee and (non-refundable) deposit are listed under the description for each retreat. Commuters are welcome if there is space; the fee is 55% of the overnight fee, and the deposit is the same as listed.
Upcoming guided retreats are included in the list of all retreats.
Silent Directed Retreat
Silent Directed Retreats are 3-day retreats (Friday-Sunday or Tuesday-Thursday). We hold several at specific times of the year as part of the Food for the Soul retreat offerings. Each retreat is open to a limited number of people and features individual spiritual direction led by a trained spiritual guide.
For details, contact the Guest House.
Currently offered on-line, these courses are taught by Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert, who for the past 16 years has taught in the Pastoral Theology department of Wycliffe College (one of the participating colleges in the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto).
These courses are non-credit, for personal enrichment, and require no registration with the university – only registration through the Sisterhood’s website and a commitment to do the homework and participate in the classes. All classes will be limited to 30 students. A waiting list will be started for those unable to register.
Requirements for Courses:
- Participants must have access to a desktop or laptop computer (no participation by phone or tablet), an up-to-date operating system, and a private connection to the internet (not at a coffee shop or other public place where distractions are many and where other students’ privacy may be compromised visually or by audio).
- The platform we will work with is Zoom, and does NOT require that participants have a Zoom account only that you download the Zoom client the first time you go on. Instructions for joining the virtual classroom will be sent to registrants. However, participants should have enough experience with computers to navigate the various aspects of Zoom and the Internet.
- Participants must make a commitment to attend and participate actively in all six classes. No one will be allowed to simply observe and profit from what others say – we will form a true community of learners who share our experience, knowledge and wisdom with each other.
See the Course Offerings.