This is a rendering of a Nebraska retreat centre planned by the Cloisters on the Platte Foundation, which includes a stone chapel. CNS/Peter Capone Design LLC

TD Ameritrade founder pours energy, resources into new retreat centre

By  Joe Ruff, Catholic News Service
  • April 17, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. - Working to establish and build a business that would become one of the largest discount brokerages in the United States — TD Ameritrade — Joe Ricketts found some 20 years ago he was drifting away from the Catholic faith and values that formed him growing up in Nebraska City.

But Ricketts, a member of St. Margaret Mary parish in Omaha, said he rediscovered his faith on a three-day retreat at the Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House near St. Paul, Minnesota.

And once a year for 14 years he returned for retreats based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises of prayer, silence, spiritual guidance and contemplative reading of Scripture.

Now, he wants to offer the same kind of experience to others, closer to Omaha, and in a big way.

With the blessing of Archbishop George Lucas, Ricketts said he will build a chapel, retreat centre and cabins to house 80 men or 80 women for weekend retreats on 375 hectares he purchased for $13.6 million Dec. 5 along the Platte River between Omaha and Lincoln.

Construction will start this spring and it will open in 2018, Ricketts said.

A board of directors, appointed with input from Lucas, will manage the retreat centre, with plans to offer about 50 three-day retreats a year based on St. Ignatius’ spiritual exercises.

Deacon Mike DeSelm and other members of the West Omaha Serra Club were among the first to hear firsthand about Ricketts’ plans for the retreat centre.

“I think there will be a lot of people interested in what he has to offer,” said DeSelm. And deacons generally go on a retreat at least once a year, so having another option close to home could help men in that program, he said.

Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese, said he and Lucas toured the site Dec. 16.

“He was impressed with the plans for the property,” McNeil said of the archbishop. “He embraced the mission, that Joe Ricketts was offering a facility with the objective of enriching people’s spiritual lives.”

Driving his efforts is a desire to share the spiritual exercises with others, after they helped set his life on a straighter course, Ricketts said.

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