“I think one of our biggest challenges is to present a program for next year that will draw a larger variety of people,” she said. “We are looking at doing a couples retreat and a mother-daughter retreat.”
Another possibility would be retreats with people studying the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, said Wautlet.
“It’s a new culture out there and we need to try and draw the younger people. We need to get creative” with retreat topics.
Retreat house established in 1951
Holy Name opened as a diocesan retreat house in summer 1951. Located on 60 acres of island property, the retreat house was gifted to the diocese by George Baudhuin. Retreats of various lengths are held each year from May to September. The island is uninhabited during winters.
To access the island, retreatants meet in Fish Creek and take a 45-minute ride aboard the facility’s boat, the Quo Vadis.
In years past, retreat openings filled quickly. A few popular speakers continue to bring people out to the island in droves each summer, including Green Bay Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau, who led a two-day retreat for 62 people last June.
“The natural beauty up here is just incredible,” said Bishop Morneau, who has led retreats at Holy Name for 35 years. “The fact that silence is pretty well maintained by the people, it’s a very nice feature of the retreat.”
The retreat experience on Chambers Island is “grounded in creation,” noted Bishop Morneau.
“The fact that it’s off the mainland, there’s a sense of leaving, really leaving home, rather than just driving two miles or 20 miles to a retreat house,” he said. “That separation and (then) going back has a nice component to the pilgrimage. That whole concept I think is powerful.”
Bishop’s support also crucial
Having the support of Green Bay’s bishop makes a difference.
“Bishop Ricken is so dedicated to this; I don’t know what we would do without his support,” said Conder. “Even though right now we are treading water, he keeps throwing us that old life saver of hope, (saying) ‘Let’s be patient. It will work.’ We are here to serve the diocese, so in essence we are here to serve the bishop. For him to support us means that, yes, he wants us to continue.”
Bishop Morneau said Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God,” identifies the role Holy Name Retreat House plays in peoples’ spiritual lives.
“One of the great needs today in our world is for silence and solitude and they are going to find it here,” he said. “You probably won’t find it as readily in other places, where there’s talking on retreat and a little more social activities. At Chambers Island they are going to find (God) through silence and solitude if they give themselves to the experience.”