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Gonzaga Eastern Point Retreat House

Gonzaga Eastern Point Retreat House, run by Jesuits in an old stone mansion on the ocean in Gloucester, Massachusetts, “is known for its sacred silence,” says its director, Father John P. Murray. “And most people would say that it is in the silence they meet God.”

Retreats lasting from four to 30 days follow the Spiritual Exercises drawn up by Saint Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) in the early 1500s, based on his own conversion experience. Retreatants meet daily with a spiritual director, attend communal worship and mass, and are free to pray in a chapel or to find comfortable nooks throughout the beautiful, very large house. “The whole key to the Spiritual Exercises is freedom,” Murray says. “The interior freedom…may include the use of music (through headphones) and books and art. So we provide a spiritual library. We have three chapels where the Blessed Sacrament is observed. The dining room faces the ocean and also has many places for people to sit quietly and write.”

Meals are communal and accompanied by classical music. Guests are housed in single rooms (there are more than 50 bedrooms), so there is adequate privacy, even though bathrooms are shared. In good weather, many questers take walks or scramble along the rocky shoreline in search of a place to sit and read or pray. “It’s very simple and comfortable, and people like it,” reports Murray. “We are crowded all the time, although the quieter months are February and March. We have a waiting list and reservations should be made six months in advance.”