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The Winter Weekend Retreat

Contemplative Outreach Chicago presents Grateful Hearts... Personal Reflections on the spiritual journey inspired by the ideas of Thomas Merton.
Our 2017 Winter Weekend Retreat is entitled, With Grateful Hearts: Personal Reflections on the Spiritual Journey.  The retreat takes place February 24-26 at the Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, Illinois.

We will explore the classic stages of the spiritual journey as reformed by Thomas Merton. You will be offered opportunities to reflect on the people, places and events that have served as personal invitations for spiritual transformation, fostering a grateful heart of thanks toward God.

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything.

Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.

For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

~ Thomas Merton

Retreat Specifics

Once again, the Winter Weekend Retreat will be guided by the Reverend Dr. Shawn Kafader.  It will take place February 24-26 at the beautiful Portiuncula Center for Prayer, 9263 West Saint Francis Road, Frankfort IL 60423.  The two nearest rail stations to “The Port” are Hickory Creek (Rock Island Line) and Matteson (Metra Electric Line).

What can I expect on this retreat?

Room check-in at “The Port” begin at 4:00 PM on Friday. Dinner is served at 6:00. The retreat begins at 7:00.

This is primarily a silent communal retreat punctuated with small conferences and some time for optional sharing.  Saturday meals will be in silence.

Mass is available on-site on Sunday morning with our hosts, the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, across from the Port.  Sunday will include an hour of Centering Prayer in common, a communal healing liturgy and an evaluation period.

Each Lodger will have a private room with a desk, sink, bed, comfortable chair and closet.  The showers and toilets are located off the hallways.  Commuters will have access to many quiet spaces and comfortable lounge chairs spread throughout the Port.

What do I need to bring?

 You may wish to bring your personal copy of the scriptures, although each room in the Port has a copy of the scriptures in it. Other useful items: (1) an alarm clock, and (2) if you normally use something other than a chair for your centering prayer periods, then bring what you use so that your prayer periods will be physically comfortable.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  St. Francis Woods, the property surrounding the retreat center, has many walking trails both paved and unpaved, in an attractive park with an inviting forest and creek.

Who is the guide for the retreat?

The Rev. Dr. Shawn Kafader, D. Min., LCPC is an ordained non-denominational minister and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Shawn enjoys offering contemplative retreats and workshops in the Chicago area as well as nationally and is a commissioned workshop presenter for Contemplative Outreach. Currently Shawn ministers as Chaplain and Clinical Supervisor at Friendship Village of Schaumburg, Schaumburg, IL.


Please have a regular practice of Centering Prayer before registering for this retreat.


You may register for the Winter Weekend Retreat as a “Lodger” or as a “Commuter.”

The cost for Lodgers is $220, including six meals, two nights lodging in a private room, and materials.(Double occupancy, $200.)

The cost for Commuters is $125, including six meals, retreat common spaces, and materials.

Scholarship financial assistance is available. Please contact the registrar for more information (


Room check-in at “The Port” begins at 4:00 PM on Friday, February 24. Dinner is served at 6:00. The retreat begins at 7:00 and will conclude after lunch on Sunday.

Secure online registration is available for single-room Lodgers  please scroll down and fill in the information requested.

If you prefer mail-in registration, or wish to register as a double occupancy Lodger or as a Commuter, please download, complete, and send in this registration form.


Bookings are closed for this event.

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