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From September 21 to 23, 2018, an Institute Salesian Women’s Retreat was held for the second time at St. Clare’s Retreat house, in Soquel, CA. The retreat was preached by three Canons of the Institute: Canon Olivier Meney of the Oakland, CA, apostolate, Canon Raphael Ueda of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory in San Jose, CA, and Canon Heitor Matheus from St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau, WI.

The conferences and meditations were based on the writings of the Institute Patron, Saint Francis de Sales, principally from his Treatise on the Love of God. Each Canon expounded on one chapter of the Treatise, and made it relevant to women living in the modern age. The rest of the weekend was filled with daily Mass, Divine Office, Adoration, and ample opportunities for confession and spiritual direction.

The venue of our Salesian Retreat, St. Clare’s, was founded in 1950 by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters on a property that had served formerly as a mountain resort hotel in the 1800s. Remodeled as a retreat house for women, the hilly grounds were dotted with many small alcoves and gardens for meditation, winding paths for walking and thinking, and Stations of the Cross through the redwoods for praying.

Exterior silence was adopted by the retreatants from Friday evening to the end of Mass on Sunday, in order that, through an interior silence, the retreatants could more easily hear the voice of Our Lord.

Although Soquel is not far from Silicon Valley, and the surrounding areas populated by many residents who are part of the hustle and bustle of the tech industry, the secluded mountain property shielded the retreatants from the noises of the world. The natural quiet, poor cell reception, and the imposed silence gave the retreatants interior space to reflect on the conferences given by the Canons. Prayerfully, through common recitation of the Rosary, silent meditative walks, or in the quiet of the rooms, the retreatants reflected on the application of the lessons to their own vocations as married or single women, and most of all, on the love of God and their own response to that love.

Most of 70 women who attended the retreat this year were from California, while a few came from the Institute’s Midwest apostolates. One and all, the retreatants were grateful to the Canons, and also to Oblate Abbé Kevin Kerscher and seminarian Abbé Paul McKown for their assistance in making the retreat a well-organized event and fruitful time of prayer - truly a retreat from the world for a few days.
Mrs. I- Wen Connick, retreatant at 2018 Salesian Retreat for Women