This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Faulkner, Maryland, and the Loyola on the Potomac retreat house. Located on 253 acres of scenic riverfront property, the retreat offers a quiet refuge for personal prayer and reflection for people of all faiths. We caught up with Jim Palmer, Director of the retreat house, who talked with us about how his organization impacts the lives of those it serves.
Q: Tell us about your organization. Who do you serve?
A: Loyola on the Potomac is a Retreat House (in the Roman Catholic tradition) that was founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and opened in 1958. Loyola is situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River. There are 235 acres of woodlands laced with numerous paths for all to enjoy. With its woods, riverfront beach and spectacular sunsets over the Potomac, Loyola has offered thousands of retreatants the opportunity and means of experiencing the joy and serenity of God’s presence.
The retreat house welcomes men and women of all faiths and backgrounds. Programs include Ignatian weekend retreats, mid-week retreats, private and directed retreats and personal days of prayer and reflection. Additionally, we collaborate with schools, social service agencies, volunteer organizations and other Church ministries to provide the opportunity for retreatants to come aside and rest awhile.
The Loyola experience affords our retreatants the opportunity to be conscious of God’s action in their lives and in the world, to deepen their faith, and to renew their commitment to justice.
Retreat programs sponsored by Loyola are conducted in the spirit of prayerful silence, inviting our guests to truly become aware of the presence of God in our world and in their lives. Our facility space is also utilized by local churches, social service organizations and schools who sponsor their own retreat programs.
The main house offers two chapels, comfortable lounges and sitting rooms and 70 individual bedrooms (each with a half bath). In addition, we have one large conference room and six small meeting rooms, a small fitness room, music room and bookstore. Internet access is available in our main retreat house.
Our property also houses Huckleberry House, a historic home that is used by visiting Jesuits and as an overflow space for larger retreats. We also have a lovely Hermitage on the property which features 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a full kitchen, living room, prayer room and screened in porch. Our grounds feature well marked hiking trails and two outdoor Stations of the Cross pathways for prayer.
Loyola on the Potomac is also the home of St. Inigoes Youth Camp, an outdoor camping area equipped with a spacious bath/shower facility, two-story barn for group activities and worship, a dining pavilion, fire pit and amphitheater.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: At the end of our Ignatian Weekend Retreats we hold a session entitled “The Gathering of Graces” during which time the retreatants share what has happened in their lives during the course of their retreat. Every session becomes a favorite moment as I become aware of the amazing transformation retreatants experience by the grace of our loving God.
Another favorite moment that gets repeated several times throughout the year is the gratitude expressed by our retreatants who participate in our partnership retreats. Loyola is blessed to be able to partner with the Ignatian Spirituality Project to offer retreats for homeless men and women; Damien Ministries to provide retreats for men and women living with HIV/AIDS; and the San Miguel School, an independent Catholic middle school that provides education to disadvantaged Latino boys in Washington, D.C. It is often overwhelming to hear these retreatants, both young and old, express what their time at Loyola has meant in their lives.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Funding! Like most nonprofits, the fees we collect from our retreatants do not cover the cost of the services we offer. And so, we engage in fund raising campaigns and rely on our benefactors to keep our doors open and ensure that the work and ministry of the retreat house thrives.
Our main house is a large structure and is now more than 50 years old; the upkeep and renovations certainly bring many challenges to our staff, as well as take their toll on our budget.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
Crab Feast and Open House – September 7, 2014 from 2:00 – 5:00 at the Retreat House
Night of Honor Banquet & Auction – October 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees
Christmas Saintly Tea – December 14, 2014 at 3:00 at the Retreat House
Loyola 5k River Run (and 1 mile walk) – June 20, 2015 at St. Inigoes Youth Camp
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: Individuals who would like to experience a retreat at Loyola can register on line at http://www.loyolaonthepotomac.com/
Groups and/or individuals that would like to do a community service or volunteer project on behalf of Loyola are invited to call our Development Director, Lisa White, at 301-392-0819.
Financial Donations to support our work and ministry can be made online or mailed directly to the retreat house. All donations made to Loyola on the Potomac are tax deductible to the full extend allowed by law.