Making a 34-week retreat- in my bathrobe!


On a blustery late-winter Sunday morning, with the breeze sending the wind chill plummeting, I pour my first cup of hot coffee and wrap my bathrobe around me a little more tightly.

I’m making a 34-week retreat with a group, and I’m on my way to see what kind of sharing my retreat partners have to offer this week. Yes. I’m heading downstairs to my computer.

While my family dozes, I go online to my alma mater, Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. and click on University Ministry, then “Online Ministry” Home Page.” There, in their “Online Retreat,” I find materials for each week, complete with introduction, Scripture readings, suggested prayers and a commentary on the week’s theme.

And in my e-mail I no doubt will find many sharings by members of my group, sent to a common mailbox at Creighton and forwarded to participants.

We used to think of retreats’ only in terms of going away to a monastery or retreat center for a weekend or longer. Today, retreats have evolved to fit into the demanding schedules. Some retreats call us to meet weekly with a facilitated group.

There are many benefits to meeting other retreatants in person. But sometimes getting out in the evening or a Saturday morning to meet with a group requires sacrificing family time or braving icy streets.

How wonderful to be able to choose my own time online.

This is the second year I’ve made Creighton’s retreat, beginning in September and ending with the Easter season. Although it’s based on the liturgical year, you can jump aboard anytime.

This year I joined a sharing group. When I read that there would be a window in September when Creighton would form groups for those interested, I was intrigued.

Would I feel comfortable sharing with people I didn’t know, couldn’t see? Would the group of 14 know my e-mail address? Could I maintain my confidentiality?

“Yes,” “yes” and “probably” were the answers. I took the plunge. It’s been a rewarding experience of faith sharing with people from South Dakota to Finland.

Wonderful spiritual resources are available online. Type in a beloved religious order, your Catholic alma mater or your favorite spiritual publication. You may be surprised at what you find.

Through Creighton’s online offerings, I’ve found a variety of spirituality links, including the Irish Jesuit Province’s “Sacred Space” site ( This is a daily prayer page inviting people to spend “10 minutes praying here and now” before their computer screen.

Since Lent 1999, “Sacred Space” records that “people have prayed here” nearly 6 million times. To the solitary soul praying with them online, “Sacred Space” offers these closing words appropriate for all of us who find spirituality at our keyboard: “When we pray we are never alone.”