A Cenacle retreat provides the opportunity for individuals to examine the presence of God in their lives and develop a closer and deeper relationship with him. The quietness and solitude of the retreat promotes meditation, personal prayer and reflection. Retreat locations are open to lay individuals from all denominations, not just Roman Catholic. All adults, single and married, men and women were welcomed.
The Roman Catholic Sisters of the Cenacle opened a hostel for women in France in 1826, initially offering service to all women. The ministry soon attained a retreat status when the decision was made to provide lodging only to those willing to spend time in purposeful prayer. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola were used as guidelines for women to learn about Jesus and to love and follow him. In 1844, the ministry changed its name to the Cenacle, after the Upper Room, called the Cenacle in Latin, where those of like spirit and mission gathered with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
The Cenacle Today
Today, there are Cenacle retreat centers in Atlanta, Houston, and Ronkonkoma NY, as well as a retreat and conference center in Chicago. The ministry expanded to fourteen other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, England, Madagascar, Togo and the Philippines.
In addition to retreat services being offered in Cenacle Centers, many others take place in community centers, parishes, and in private homes. Individuals wanting to find out about retreat opportunities in their area should check the Cenacle website and call the closest retreat center.
What to Expect
The focus of Cenacle ministry is individual, congregational and Church prayer. The intent is to create an environment of faith, one which will be sacred to the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Cenacle is a place where individuals can search for a deeper relationship with their God. This happens through a variety of seminars, workshops, spiritual programs and retreats. Some Centers like the one in Chicago offer a variety of presentations over the year on specific topics such as a Lenten Taize Prayer Service.
Some retreats are designed to provide a contemplative and quiet atmosphere, promoting reflection and prayer. Other programs offer opportunities to interact with others for mutual support and sharing. All retreats are sacred periods of time when God is actively transforming lives.
Programs and Retreats
Individuals have a broad variety of programs from which to choose. Some are designed to develop increased understanding of the rich history of Catholic spirituality. Other programs and retreats incorporate both secular and sacred, as well as the spiritual and psychological. Group retreats are usually held on weekends, although there are many weekday and evening programs available as well.
Examples of Cenacle retreat which may be available in a given location include:
• Retreats starting with a morning speaker, followed by special readings, personal prayer and sharing of the Eucharist, with participants spending the day in silence
• A 3 to 8 day retreat or even one extended to 30 days allowing opportunity for prayerful solitude, under the direction of a retreat director to help clarify what God is saying
• Private retreat in days of prayer allowing individuals to spend time in reflection and prayer, with optional meetings with a Cenacle Sister
• Special program retreats such as prayer and study of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola
Join a Cenacle Retreat and learn about Jesus. Learn how to enrich and develop a closer relationship with Him. Expect a happier and fuller life through awakened conviction and deepened faith.