...waves lapping, seabirds calling, Mass bells pealing…

In the last Advancing the Kingdom article I wrote about St. Luke’s Productions and commented on how rare and yet critical the sacred arts are for the renewal of culture. Since then I have learned of another “oasis” (in this case, literally an island) where Truth, Beauty and Goodness are so inextricably at one with each other they seem to have been distilled into a penetrating experience which at once is visual, audible, tangible and, of course, spiritual.

Enders Island – where to retreat is to advance.

Enders Island, situated in Fisher’s Island Sound just off Mystic, Connecticut, is the home of St. Edmund’s Retreat Center, (www.endersisland.com)  a haven for spiritual and physical renewal. Enders Island had been the home of Dr. Thomas Enders and his wife Alys VanGilder Enders. In 1954 the family offered the island to the recently erected  Diocese of Norwich and soon this maritime jewel became the property of the Society of St. Edmund (Edmundites) who used it first as a novitiate. Subsequently, Enders Island became a center for directed, guided and private retreats for lay, religious and clerical individuals and groups, influenced by the spirituality, traditions and charism of the Edmundites.  (The Society of St. Edmund was founded in 1848 in Pontigny, France which is the burial place of St. Edmund of Canterbury, the 13th Archbishop of Canterbury known for his kindness to others.) The island also provides a very effective setting for the center’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. More than a few bishops have been refreshed and renewed by their stay there.

In fact, all visitors who avail themselves of the Enders Island experience witness a sense of wholesomeness and wholeness. Certainly the natural surroundings contribute to this, but so do the center’s  stately home, the  art work it enshrines, and the stone paths that emanate from it through the island.

Within this edifying environment is the St. Michael Institute of Sacred Art whose mission is “to preserve and promote the highest standards of excellence in the sacred arts in service to Jesus Christ and His Church”.  The program features a wide array of artistic expression including iconography, manuscript illumination, mosaics, stained glass, frescos, Gregorian chant and sculpture. As its website states:

“Responding to the needs so clearly outlined by our Holy Father, the Institute is a means for fostering the creative genius of artists that brings hope, inspiration, furthers the devotion of believers, and encourages all who search for the truth who is Christ”. On the island Mass is offered daily in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption which features the sacred works of several of the masters who teach in the Institute.

St. Michael’s Institute has a suitable home on Enders Island where religious retreats and other programs are offered to those willing to cross the bridge into this world away from the world. To quote its website again:  there are “few places in New England where you can awake to the sounds of seabirds calling, waves lapping, and a Mass bell pealing”.

Enders Island – where to retreat is to advance.

Please follow and like us:

1 Comment

  1. Dana, thanks for drawing my attention to Enders Island. So very often throughout my life, I have wondered what it would be like to make a retreat there. I think you’ve convinced me to do so, perhaps this summer. Thanks for moving along that particular “grace.”

    Hope all is well with you and your family — and the Raskob Foundation to whom we are so grateful. God bless!


    Roseann Quinn, SSJ
    Bishop’s Delegate for Lifelong Faith Formation
    Diocese of Camden

Comments are closed.