Reader Susan’s cry for help is one that many readers can identify with:

Help!! I am scheduled to attend a mother daughter retreat with my teenage daughters sponsored by Regnum Christi. I have only recently become familiar with this LC/RC situation and I must say that I am thoroughly disgusted and confused. Do the RC members continue to quote/recognize/acknowledge Maciel at the retreat centers? If so, I will not attend. I have left a message at Mt. Kisco but not sure if it will be returned in time. Between this and the situation in Europe, I am feeling very disheartened about the Church overall and not much in the mood for a retreat, but I don’t want my feelings to affect my children. My daughters are excited about attending this and we are going with good friends. Any advice??

Susan, as a fellow parent I both understand and appreciate your concern. In fact, your situation is similar to one that came up in discussion last year over enrolling one’s daughters in RC-sponsored Pure Fashion. I would invite you to check out the post, which identifies some problems and offers a practical alternative for Catholic moms and daughters to grow together spiritually. Please click here.
Additionally, many monasteries and some convents, take retreatants. Some have special guest houses for women. As a teen I attended several youth retreats – via both the Catholic Church and the PAOC (Canada’s equivalent to Assemblies of God) that were “teen orientated” – retreats like Antioch, Youth Encounter, etc. I even attended spiritual exercises with the SSPX.
However, the most memorable retreats for me were the times my dad took me to the Trappist monastery in Oka or Orangeville, or my visit to the Benedictine Monastery in St. Benoit du Lac. Ironically, it was after a retreat with these old, tried and contemplative orders that I discerned God calling me back to the Catholic Church – the first time home from evangelical protestantism, and the second time home from radical traditionalism. In retrospect, I feel there is something about praying in a relaxed and simple surrounding, in the middle of nature, that draws the soul back to God.
The other nice thing is that one’s schedule is open. So one can join the monks for prayer and mass followed by a breakfast of fresh bread and fruits. Then take a walk around the monastery grounds, while praying the Rosary, before joining the monks for more prayer and lunch. Then drive into town for a little mother-daughter shopping in small town boutiques, take in the local sights and grab supper – using it as an opportunity to really converse with your girls. Then return to the monastery for evening prayer followed by recollection and night prayer.
As many of us have discovered as parents doing our best to raise our kids Catholic, what speaks most to our children is our time. We don’t need fancy retreats, programs, marketing, etc… What we need to do is take the time to introduce them to simple Catholicism, to old charisms like that of the Benedictine which is both tested and true.
For instance, like we try and do every summer, our family will probably mix our summer vacation at Mackinac Island and Jellystone Park with a day at this national Franciscan shrine. So it’s Yogi Bear in the morning; Mass with the Franciscans and the National Nun Doll Museum in the afternoon; followed by an evening shopping along the boardwalk at St. Ignace. Then back to the trailer to pray the rosary while roasting marshmallows by campfire. Sometimes we arrange to meet up with other Catholic families, sometimes we just happen to run into them and plans merge for the afternoon or evening.
In fact, if any of you live in Michigan and enjoy camping, you’re welcome to join us this summer. Perhaps we could all get together for the Canada Day – Independence Day long weekend. There are several KOAs and a couple of Jellystone Parks between St. Ignace and Higgins Lake. It’s just a matter of picking one; putting together a loose schedule that combines prayer time, historical time, fun time and family time; and meeting up.