Lutherans in Minnesota

When Lutherans get away

Retreat centers host individuals seeking alone time

Marc Hequet

Jesus fled to the hills around the Sea of Galilee to pray, the Gospels report. No
wonder, given the circumstances — crowds of sick, troubled, and spiritually
needy people following everywhere.

Does that sound familiar? Metro Lutheran readers may want to get away as
well — for a few hours, for a day, for a few days. Included here is a starter list
of retreat centers suggested by regular sources.

Some of these facilities are generally well-known, such as Mount Olivet
Conference & Retreat Center (www.mtolivet at Farmington,
Minnesota, with 150 acres of lakefront, woods, and prairie.

Some of the centers on this list may be closer, others more distant, some
perhaps less well-known.

This list isn’t intended to be comprehensive. Likely some favorites are left out
— no slight intended. On the other hand, an unfamiliar site or two will be

Alone time

Some people in search of a retreat center want solitude — but spontaneous
groups can happen. Kat Singer picked Shalom Hill Farm near Windom in
southwestern Minnesota for a three-day weekend in April. The administrative
and communications coordinator for Lutheran Music Program, a Minneapolis
nonprofit that runs a summer music academy, thought she would curl up
with a good book or hike the prairie. Instead, she met six people discussing

Group retreats are a staple for such centers, but individual are welcome too.
Shalom Hill Farm, for one, reports that it is receiving more inquiries from
pastors, students, and others about personal retreats.

Prairie is nothing new to Singer, a Kansan, but the landscape at Shalom Hill
Farm impressed her. “I guess most people tend to view beauty as trees and
snow-covered mountains,” Singer says. “This was very different.”
What about food?

David Roth books Missouri Synod retreats. As the education assistant to the
president of the LCMS Minnesota South District in Burnsville, he knows what
counts. “If the food is good,” says Roth, “the retreat is good.”

Retreat centers do feed you, and typically include one or more meals in the
cost of the room. Some treat food as a selling point. At Christ the King
Retreat Center in Buffalo, a returnee once told Director Louis Studer, “We
knew we were going to have the beef stew on Saturday night, because we had
it last year.” Father Studer took the hint. “We’ve addressed the issue,” he
says. “We have a much wider variety of food for them.”

You needn’t feel guilty about food. In Luke, Jesus tells the crowds that John
the Baptist “came eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, ‘He has
a demon.’ The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say,
‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet
wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Whether you pursue John’s ascetic course or the more gregarious path of
Jesus — we wish you a good retreat.

Need a retreat? A sampling of sites

Some retreat centers offer rooms for the day only. Below, however, are listed
prices for one person staying overnight at a sampling of centers in the Twin
Cities area.

Benedictine Retreat Center of St. Paul’s Monastery
2675 Benet Road, Maplewood, Minnesota;
This urban women’s monastery close to the St. Paul-Maplewood city line
welcomes men as well as women. In July and August, people tend to come for
longer stays of up to seven days. Guests can use the monastic library, attend
prayers, and meet the sisters. A single room costs $75 for one night.

Christ the King Retreat Center
621 First Av. S., Buffalo Minnesota;
This Roman Catholic retreat center welcomes all denominations — and even
offers massage services through local providers. An overnight stay for one
person costs $60.

Heartwood Conference Center
N10884 Hoinville Road, Trego, Wisconsin;
715/466-6300; 800/577-4848.
Heartwood, formerly the Schwan Center, has two lodge facilities for group
food service and meetings. Families book weddings at Heartwood and other
such centers, and July and August may be busy wedding months. Also,
Heartwood and some other centers offer high-speed Internet connections,
including wireless. This may or may not be an attraction for a spiritual
retreat. Single rates are $89 per night.

Holy Wisdom Monastery
Middleton, Wisconsin;
608/836-1631, ext. 101.
You really want to get away? If you like this place near Madison, Wis., you
may move in permanently. Men can stay here, of course, but beyond that a
woman “from any Christian tradition is welcome to explore a call to our way
of life,” says the monastery Web site. Visitors can share daily prayer, support
monastic women in Africa and Asia and restore a 130-acre prairie, blooming
in July and August. Overnight single rooms are $47.

Shalom Hill Farm
42194 County Rd. 3, Windom, Minnesota;
Guests can meet the chickens and other farm animals, hike the prairie or
drive to historic sites. Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s museum is in
nearby Walnut Grove. To ponder another spiritual tradition, go see the Jeffers
Petroglyphs, with prehistoric carvings on low Sioux quartzite outcrops. Single
rooms are $34 per night. You’re fleeing the flock? That makes it $29 per
night for any church or other nonprofit worker.