How one weekend retreat can transform a life
How one weekend retreat can transform a life

How one weekend retreat can transform a life

Dunrovin Retreat Center is an ideal setting for teens to get away from everyday distractions for a time of spiritual refection.

When Mary Howard was in the eighth grade, she went on a retreat at Dunrovin Retreat Center. Jim Franzen was her youth minister at the retreat.

Now as an adult, Howard leads youth retreats along with Jim Franzen and Tim Stanoch.  Howard’s role is to lead and train small group leaders in addition to being the music leader at retreats.

Dunrovin holds two junior high retreats and up to five senior high retreats every year. These retreats are directly tied to Dunrovin’s mission of spiritual education for youth.

While many students attend retreats to fulfill requirements for school or confirmation, Dunrovin retreats have a long term benefit. Students learn to reflect privately in a Christian community and build a stronger prayer life. This spiritual foundation carries through into adult life.

“We all need to go away on a retreat – even as adults!” Howard said.

‘No other youth retreat like Dunrovin’

Howard’s passion for retreats can be attributed to her experiences at Dunrovin over the years.

When youth retreats began at Dunrovin in 1998, Howard was working at a parish and volunteered to lead the retreats. Sixteen years later, Howard is an example of Dunrovin’s impact on youth who attend a spiritual retreat.

“There is no other youth retreat center like Dunrovin,” she said. “The serene atmosphere enables retreat-goers to enter into the presence of God and want to pursue that closeness in their daily life.”

Students can attend Dunrovin retreats more than once, and do not have to be with a team or organization to experience the peace retreats can bring.

What happens on a weekend retreat?

Spiritual retreats run for about two days, with several activities for students. Small group discussions and large group teaching go hand in hand at the retreats, where the goal is to strengthen each student’s relationship with God.

“Our hope is that they develop a stronger prayer life,” Howard said. “We want them to remember to take time to be filled, and to take advantage of Dunrovin’s beautiful location.”

Retreat-goers have free time to reflect in their dorm rooms independently, but also have scheduled quiet times. For thirty minutes to an hour, they spend time alone in their rooms or outside praying, reflecting, and finding peace in their own way. Sometimes this quiet time is guided by retreat leaders. But often students are allowed to reflect on their own.

“Reflection time lets them feel something they don’t often get to feel: something bigger outside of themselves,” said Howard. “You walk in and just know you’re in the holy presence of God.”

Communal evening vespers, which include worship and praise, are also a part of the faith-building experience.

Connection to Christian community

Another benefit of Dunrovin youth retreats is the Christian community it fosters. Howard sees that young people desire a deeper sense of community. Dunrovin retreats enable them to build lifelong friendships in a welcoming Christian community.

Mary Howard

This community can be life-changing, as Howard experienced firsthand. “Dunrovin retreats were instrumental in my life and faith walk,” she said. That inspired her to become a youth leader.

Like Howard, students often attend Dunrovin retreats in junior high, then return to be trained as adult retreat leaders. In fact, everyone on the youth retreat leadership team today attended a Dunrovin retreat as a youth.

A welcoming place for renewal

An average weekend retreat at Dunrovin will host around fifty students from the Twin Cities metro area. But youth from all over Minnesota, and even Wisconsin, trek to the scenic, wooded grounds at Dunrovin for a spiritual respite.

And that is why Dunrovin Retreat Center exists: to welcome students to a serene, comfortable setting to be spiritually fed – and physically fed with hearty home-cooked meals prepared onsite.

While Catholic mass is celebrated at weekend retreats, there is no requirement to be Catholic to attend these life-changing events. All students are welcome.

Spiritual retreats this summer run from June 27-29 for junior high and July 31-August 3 for senior high students.

To learn more or to register for a retreat, email or call 651-433-2486