Marylake a special and unique place

By  Greg McKenna, Catholic Register Special
  • September 22, 2013

KING CITY, ONT. - I have been on 45 retreats at Marylake. I started as a teenager with youth groups and eventually joined the adult group. I have been a Captain for 20 years or so. After all these years I continue to find Marylake a special place.

Some of the retreatants that I started with years ago are still attending our annual parish retreat. For those seasoned retreatants, each year that comes brings a routine that they are quite used to. They are very comfortable there and in some ways it is a “home away from home experience.”

New retreatants are a little unsure as to what to expect. Initially they may feel that the two days may seem endless and may be a little unsure as to how they may deal with the free time and silence that retreatants are asked to maintain. But once they settle in, I feel that they begin to get accustomed to the routine and in some way begin to appreciate the time that they have to meditate and enjoy the time they have to appreciate the silence in the absence of all the distractions from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.

There are many experiences retreatants enjoy. The meals are excellent and are generally eaten in silence. At first, this is an odd experience but the retreatants genuinely enjoy the silent experience. Some of the talks given by the retreat leader spark many interesting questions and discussions. It allows retreatants to discuss worldly matters that may interest them in an environment of others who share a common sense of spirituality.

Retreatants also enjoy the natural setting at Marylake. Many retreatants regularly take walks on the grounds.

Sometimes it is a challenge encouraging new retreatants to come and spend a weekend with us. I think that many potential retreatants are generally uneasy as to what might happen during such an experience. But I am always encouraged by the attitude of new retreatants at the time of departure as to how happy they are that they took the plunge and came.

A retreat at Marylake is a unique experience. It is not a holiday at your favourite hotel for the weekend. It is an opportunity to retreat from our daily lives, free us from our frequent daily demands and distractions and spend a few days in silence and camaraderie with other like-minded Catholics.

(McKenna is a retreat captain at Marylake.)

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