approached my retreat at St Buenos with mixed emotions.
How would I cope with the silence?
What would the food be like?
What about the other people.
From the minute I stepped inside the magnificent building nestling
amidst the Welsh hills all these concerns disappeared. I had stepped
into another world. The peace was tangible. I could feel the prayers
of generations taking me over.
It was like all my worries were lifted from me and that I was
floating on a blanket of absolute peace.
Sitting in one of the prayer rooms I could hear the blackbirds
singing and the trees were blowing in the wind. Life stood still
I was at one with God, nature and myself.
The countryside around is wonderful the walks across valleys and
up hills create an unfathomable spiritual dimension.
Standing outside in the cold February night air I took in the
hundreds of bright stars lighting up the night sky.
I was blessed with my guide Sr Mary Murphy She is intuitive sensitive
and a beautiful caring woman. She listened to me rambling on and
gently issuing words of encouragement and hope. By day two I had
forgotten why I had thought I had any worries in life. Everything
was put in perspective.
We celebrated beautiful liturgies with great singing.
How to describe my retreat: It is a journey to another place,
a wonderful life changing place. The silence is enriching,the
other people came from across the UK men and women age range from
earlier 20 to 70’s but we all gelled united in the knowledge
that each of us had our own story to share with the Lord. As for
the food I have no idea, I was so enthralled by the atmosphere
food did was not a consideration. Another concern that I had was
the travel but in fact it is a very easy place to get to being
only 5 minutes from the A55 which links up to the major motorways.
I am so grateful to all the people at St Beuno's in particular
Mary but everybody I met contributed to a wonderful week-end.
A week-end that has left me spiritually and physically refreshed
and with a peace that has remained with me. An unforgettable experience.
Thank you all so much.
Rose M. 2014
to a Sacred Place
I recently visited St Beuno's to experience the Pilgrims
to Sacred places retreat. I was attracted to this particular retreat
because of the walking aspect, other than that I had little idea what
I think it was a good choice for me as I had not been
on a retreat before. As we were not in silence all of the time I came
to realise how valuable times of quiet and stillness can be, even more
so since I came home.
St Beuno's cave was a very powerful place where a connection
to the distant past could be felt. The pool at Llanrhaeader was an oasis
of peace and calm.
However the most significant place for me was the Woodland
chapel with continuous exposition I found myself continually drawn back
there. Now if I feel stressed I can think myself back to there sitting
quetly in the presence of the Lord.
Being able to attend Mass everyday was something special
too with everything so calm and gentle.Definitely a case of less is
more.Visiting the Rock Chapel was also a special experience. I had the
privilege of sharing the retreat with a group of friendly and interesting
fellow pilgrims and keep them all in my prayers.
The accommodation in a cottage was top notch and the
food very good and plentiful. I came away from St Beuno's with a feeling
of inner peace which has so far been maintained, also a great appreciation
of the joy and benefit of silence. In fact I long to return and continue
Hopefully I will return next year.
To the Staff at St Beuno's July 2012
Thank you for welcoming me, loving me, fedding my body
and spirit with the love and nourishment I desperately needed. I really
cannot repay what all of you did for me. (I'm even grateful to the bees
for not stinging me!)
.... I hope I can help spread the love and kindness you all game me
to those around me.
Jude (aged 21)
Birkinshaw - Individually Guided Retreat June 2011
I recently attended an 8 day silent retreat at St
Beunos and thought it was wonderful. I had heard about the retreat through
a friend but didnt really know what I was letting myself in for, but
actually the information on the website and the welcome meeting on the
first night answered most of my immediate questions. The silence was
not oppressive in the slightest and you could ask someone to ‘pass
the salt’ at the dinner table without feeling that you had committed
a crime! But the reality for me was that maintaining the silence was
actually extremely freeing, it really enabled me to sit with myself
and God in a special way.
Everybody’s retreat will be unique to them but I had some wonderful
experiences during the week, things that will remain with me forever.
The art room was an amazing blessing and the spiritual direction was
a real priviledge. Having someone who gently asked questions that I
would not have thought to ask myself was both challenging and rewarding
and ultimately they were springboards for learning and growth. I found
the atmosphere in the house and the grounds very peaceful and calming
and the routine of meals and prayer helped me not to feel lost in the
silence of the days. I felt I mattered to the St Beunos team and would
recommend anyone to experience a retreat there. If I could offer a helpful
suggestion to anyone considering a retreat, it would be to try not to
go with preconceived ideas or fixed expectations but to simply follow
where the spirit leads you!
Gunn - Individually Guided Retreat June 2011
This was my very first retreat that lasted more than
a day, and my first visit to St Beuno's. After a few people had recommended
the centre to me, I finally bit the bullet and booked on an 8 day Individually
The retreat follows the exercises of St Ignatius of
Loyola, and as such is a 'Silent' retreat, that may sound quite daunting
spending eight days without speaking, but actually as soon as you arrive
at the centre and enter through the door you are welcomed by one of
the team, who show you to your room and show you were everything is
and will answer any questions you have.
The first afternoon of arrival you can talk as normal
and eat and meet and chat to the other people on the retreat. The first
night after dinner you have a group meeting with staff and all on the
course or retreat and then you meet your Spiritual Director, by which
time the peace of St Beuno's has entered you and your ready to ease
into the silence of the retreat, your room is very comfortable and cool
and light with lovely views across the Welsh countryside or the immaculate
grounds. The silence is not a barrier at St Beuno's it is never imposed
and if you need to ask a question at any time during your stay just
ask, the staff are really friendly and always willing to assist you,
your Spiritual Director is there for you to, you meet daily for around
45 minutes where you get a chance to talk about anything and everything
and ask questions, they are fantastic listeners and they can design
your retreat experience around you the individual.
There are all kinds of people on retreats from those
who have a deep faith to those wishing to meet God for the first time
and some who just want space to breath. St Beuno's is the place for
everyone and you really can't fail to feel the love and peace of the
place. Set in wonderful Countryside you can go for long walks over the
hills to the local villages or through the expansive grounds of the
centre, where you can walk in the gardens and climb the steps to the
top of the hill which feels like your climbing in to heaven and stare
across to the Sea with the windmills in it, or walking to the Rock Chapel
through the fields. Or walking the stations of the Cross through some
If you seen the "Big Silence" on BBC 2 you will have
already seen the inside of the centre but reality is St Beuno's is so
much better when you visit it, the silence is natural and personally
at the time of writing this I have been back home for 3 weeks now and
long to go back to St Beuno's. For me I had a chance to stop and hear
God, and I've come back full of energy and somehow have become more
peaceful and much happier and focussed. What to Expect from a retreat
at St Beuno's to this I would say don't go with anything in mind just
let the retreat and experience take you on the most inspiring journey.
The food is fantastic too.
Barbara Heaton - Introduction to Meditation Weekend July
me and others were blown away at the Eucharist both Fr. David and Fr.
Richard took on the last afternoon of the retreat. It was by far the
loveliest Mass I have ever attended. It came as a complete surprise
how the intimacy of the event unfolded and the feelings I felt overpowered
me. I know I may sound just a teeny weensy tiny bit 'dramatic' :-) but
its true. lol!
The weekend has and will always have a lasting effect on me. It has
also left me wanting to experience more! and to experience true silence
with prayer. Prayer is becoming very much apart of me, which is a surprise
as I would never have thought it possible to see prayer as anything
more than something that is done during times of distress or death and
only by 'someone else' more devout than me.
The lessons on meditation with prayer really opened
my eyes to something that I knew nothing of and didn't know existed
- why oh why have I lived almost 60 years and not known this! :-) who's
to blame? let me hunt them down and have a few strong words with them
When l look at prayer now with opened eyes I see that it is such a natural
thing to do and can be part of my life just as going for a run can be
(or running up a very long stretch of steps when happy!). So do not
be surprised if you see me wondering the corridors of St Beunos one
day on a longer IGR retreat. :-) ....... silently!
But in all seriousness thank you once again for an enlightening experience
Neville O'Neill - Individually Guided Retreat June
would say that as a 36 year old male living and working in London the
retreat offered a welcome oportunity for me to focus on the spiritual
as opposed to the material side of my life.
The environment was conducive to slowing down my mind
which enabled me to get in touch with the spirit. There were many different
approaches to my reflection, I enjoyed particularly the long walks in
the North Wales countryside, with it's hills and coastal views and the
joy of meditating as the sun set over the sea.
The emphasis was not specifically religious in a traditional
sense, there was the opportunity for me to explore approaches to work
in the future which in my case is working overseas with addictions.
My spiritual director was very practical in her approach and with her
experience of working overseas, she was able to assist me in contemplating
a way of working in a difficult environment whilst drawing on the inner
strength and peace that was being nurtured in my time at Beuno's.
After a very hectic last few years of work and travel,
the retreat was also a source of renewal, allowing me to feel rested
fully in a peaceful environment with wonderful facilities and excellent
accomodation and locally sourced food. It gave me an oppotunity to step
outside my life for a moment to see where I was going and where I had
come from. It was a valuable pause, with nothing to concern me but the
business of myself, in a positive way. There were many varied opportunities
for me to explore my creative self, my spiritual self and the spirit
around me in nature and within.
Although there was a structure to the week, there was
no restraint and on occasion I found I wanted to walk to the sea at
Prestatyn and have a coffee in the local town and at other times I found
I was happy to sit alone in a hill or pray in one of the many beautiful
rooms with in Beuno's. There was an unspoken pact that enabled a few
retreatants to meet one day at the local pub to suffer the performance
of England in the World Cup which made us only too glad to retreat from
the world once more for a time.
It is an opportunity that is not presented so often
to step outside the modern world and enter a space that is timeless
in essence. I believe the retreat is of benefit to anyone who would
like to take time to step outside their lifes to reflect upon where
they are heading. It is a chance to draw on resources greater than the
active mind and unavailable in the hurtling city.
Tom Younger - June 2010
It's fair to say that I really did not know what to
expect from my retreat. Even up to the moment I arrived, I wasn't certain
that the retreat was what I needed, especially coming as it did at the
end of a fairly intense month of traveling. But as soon as I met with
my retreat guide, Steve, and the others on the first evening, I realized
that I was just where I needed to be at that time.
As I entered properly into the silence, I was pleasantly
surprised to find how natural it felt, and also how much there was to
be heard, when I really made an effort to listen. A day in, I began
to wonder whether 6 days would be sufficient.
As the week progressed, I became more and more acquainted
with Beuno's (and the surrounding countryside) - the place has so much
character: every corridor, chapel and corner is invested with so much
personality. The atmosphere was conducive to the workings of the Spirit..in
the silence I found myself more sensitive to the subtle nudgings that
more often than not are obscured by the tasks of everyday life; I discovered
a lot of laughter (something I certainly didn't expect) and felt my
heart becoming warmer, less hardened.
The meetings with Steve each day were like cats' eyes,
gleaming on the road, drawing me on and marking out the way ahead. The
silence which surrounded them gave greater weight to every word, and
if I can retain even just a fraction of all that I learnt, it will have
been worthwhile. Also, I should mention that the structure of the retreat
appealed to me greatly - just enough to create a rhythm of routine,
but not too much to stifle spontaneity.
I've been back a few weeks now and have found that
my days pass with a deeper sense of purpose. It's not that Beuno's has
given me a new direction as such, but rather the experience has enabled
me to see the direction already underlying my life with greater clarity.
I can't really tell you what that feels like. When I arrived at Beuno's,
I saw it in some ways as the end of my adventure for this summer - "Well,
that's the camino done..now just to find work and sit it out until term
starts again" - but now I see it more as the beginning of a new chapter,
one that I'm well into and enjoying greatly.