By: Sr. Patty Johnson

Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, ArizonaAs we have tried to imagine what programs would serve our membership in 2019 and 2020, a group has helped us create a series of ways to deliver "Guided Retreats." Now we are looking for you, our members and potential members, to help us develop these programs.

We know that for many of our members, travel, available time, and expense make physically coming to a retreat challenging. Though some of our programming will allow for bringing retreats to a location, we also wanted to offer unique ways for programs to be available to individuals and groups to use on their time schedule, in their own home.

Retreat in a box

Using local Federation members as the retreat director(s), this prepackaged retreat would come with written materials about the subject of the retreat (e.g. the charism, Ignatian Spirituality, etc.), suggested readings for the retreat participants, topic titles for each talk with an outline of talking points, and reflection questions for participants. Prepared prayers and suggested music would also be helpful. With this structure, retreat directors can make adaptations that would best fit their respective audiences. These "Retreat in a Box" materials would be available in the Members-Only part of the website.

At-home retreat booklets

These booklets would be free to members in the members-only section of the website. We may choose to copyright and offer a limited number of them on our website at a nominal cost for non-members as another way of spreading the charism. 

An individual would download a booklet and set aside a few days at home to journey through the retreat. Each retreat would include reading on a topic, reflection questions, prayer-time exercises, and suggested music (free on YouTube is preferable).

Online via video conferencing (Zoom)

Another option for sharing our charism and spirituality is through offering online conferences about a topic. The leader(s) could develop a topic, perhaps for one hour a week for six weeks (ex. a Lenten Series) but may be shorter or longer as the topic requires. Conferences could be lecture style or interactive. Once the target audience is determined, the U.S. Federation Office could work with the leader(s) to develop the best way to get the word out about the program and set up the zoom technology.

In-person 1/3/5-day retreats

We are also interested in developing a resource list of people who would like to be part of a CSSJ traveling retreat team that could go to local areas and present or lead a retreat in person. The retreat leader/team would identify the topic and propose how the retreat would go. Each person would identify their professional expertise, retreat experience, or certification as spiritual/retreat directors. These retreats would be excellent for those living in retirement centers who now find travel difficult or congregations that want to offer a common experience for their members. Each congregation would work with the retreat team on scheduling, advertising, costs, and other details. We do not want to compete with the remaining CSSJ Retreat and Spirituality Centers. Our goal is to offer resources to those who would not be able to travel to those sites.

Please contact the Federation office through our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email if you would like to contribute to any of these topics.

[Sr. Patty Johnson is executive director of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph]