Shrine Mont Parish Weekends
Sign ups are now available for our annual parish retreat, happening September 18-20, 2020!
One of our favorite St. Michael’s traditions is the annual parish retreat. We write today to share the good news that we are moving forward with plans to be on retreat together at Shrine Mont in September. For many of us, Shrine Mont provides a place of comfort, solace and reflection that is needed as much or more than in years past. This year, Saint Michael's will gather at Shrine Mont after a long period of isolation, from family members, our friends, colleagues, fellow commuters, diners, shop patrons, and, of course, our fellow parishioners. How has this isolation shaped us? What lessons might we draw from this extraordinary circumstance? How do we begin anew after experiencing something so profound? If isolation tests our faith, might it also be a wellspring of strength?
As you might imagine, things will look MUCH different from previous parish retreats. Below you will find an explanation of what you can expect. The best metaphor to envision our time together is parallel play.
- Housing will be isolated by family units. Each family unit will have an exterior entrance designated for use by that family only. We have designated each house with available units based on the number of doors. For example, your family unit may be the only ones to reside on the upper level of a home with an exterior entrance. Many houses that used to hold up to 4 families, will only be assigned to two families. If there is only one exterior entrance, one family will be assigned to that house. Hotel rooms (with doors to each room and individual bathrooms) are also available upon request.
- Meals will be served according to the Shrine Mont safety guidelines in place at the time. At the time of this writing, all meals are being served in take-out containers and consumed outdoors. Eating in the dining halls will be optional.
- All gatherings will take place outdoors – on trails, patios, and at the lower pavilion.
- We will not have a keynote speaker or formal program for children or adults, though we do mean to facilitate a meaningful experience.
- Children will be given a pre-packaged set of fun activities to use under the supervision of parents. We have reserved the lower pavilion for our group and encourage you to hang out there. We will provide some outside games for use around the pavilion, and lots of hand sanitizer. Please feel free to bring your own outdoor games!
- A schedule of activities will be provided in which individuals can choose to participate. For example, a hike up North Mountain, a hike to Seven Springs, a nature walk, and socially distanced bingo.
- Participants will be invited to bring outdoor chairs suitable for socializing from a distance on the lower pavilion, which is protected from the sun and rain. Having easy to move chairs will allow us to visit with one another in ways we have been missing!
- We will have time to gather for prayers, Compline, and Sunday worship in the Shrine, in accordance with the Diocesan guidelines for safe outdoor worship.
Shrine Mont has been incredibly flexible as conditions continue to evolve. Please see the attached guidelines, which specify the steps Shrine Mont has taken to facilitate a safe experience. You may sign up now, and cancel by September 3 if necessary. No payment is needed until September 3. If you had registered previous to COVID, we will be in touch to verify the state of your plans. If you do not feel comfortable gathering, you are invited to consider making a donation to Shrine Mont to support their continued efforts to maintain their ministries.
Cost for the weekend (which includes delicious comfort food from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch) for adults in a single occupancy room is $215. Cost for adults in a double occupancy room is $165 each. Thanks to the generosity of our parish, children 18 and under attend for free!
Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.
Caroline Haynes, Linda Kelleher, Amy Miller, Tom Sheldon
Reflections from a First Time Attendee to the Parish Retreat
My first impression of Shrine Mont came from one of the coffee cups at coffee hour. It looks scary to say the least. Then came a verbal challenge, thrown around a few weeks later at coffee hour, “I’ll go if you go…”
I will not lie, I was a little hesitant to leave home for a weekend to spend time with some people I was only beginning to know and join in activities that would involve things like ‘sharing, openess and reflection.’ I drove myself up because I was leaving later than most folks, which everyone understood, and I found the ride to be a nice opportunity to separate myself from Arlington and work. Once there, I was met with friendly smiles, easy choices of activities and a sense of calmness. The people I chose to spend my time with were fun, engaged and interesting. I must say, the fellowship was the best part. As I talked with other parishioners that I hadn’t yet met at church and then shared laughs with some of the much younger members of the church at mealtime, I finally felt like I was becoming a member of St. Michael's. There was time to hike in the woods, hang out on front porches, and even sit in the chapel in the woods and be still. It was a special weekend that I look forward to repeating soon.