Opening to Grace: A Contemplative Retreat in the Manner of Friends

April 4-7, 2019, at the Avila Retreat Center, Durham, NC

More than ever, in these days of fast-paced living, multi-tasking, and continual connectivity, we need times apart – times of “retirement” as early Friends used to say. We need time for the refreshment of the soul and quiet communion with God.

Come and simply be with God. Attend to the divine stirrings of the soul, opening to grace.

During this retreat, participants will experience the distinctly Quaker manner of knowing solitude in community. There will be silent time for prayer and reflection, walks among the trees, and contemplative interaction with scripture.

Meals will be eaten in group silence, and evenings will be spent in “active silence” – sitting together while engaged in quiet activities like handwork, sketching, reading, or journaling.

There will also be opportunities for speaking out of the silence. We will gather in worship and worship sharing, and participants may, if they wish, meet one-on-one with a retreat leader. Sinking down into the silence, we may give voice to what is encountered there, longing to be heard. In our sharing, our souls touch and we find ourselves gathered in blessed community.

Download brochure for North Carolina Retreat in pdf format.

Retreat Leaders

Rita Willett, Jan Blodgett,  and Thais Carr are all graduates of the School of the Spirit’s On Being A Spiritual Nurturer program and are well versed in leading contemplative retreats.


The Avila Retreat Center lies a few miles north of Durham, NC, and sits on 51 acres which includes hiking trails. It is a non-profit, religious, ecumenical retreat center sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina. They welcome and respect all persons and groups of goodwill, differing backgrounds and religious traditions who seek peace, joy and healing.

Directions to Avila


First day:
3:30-5 pm Arrival and settling in
5 pm Opening worship
5:30 pm Dinner

Final day:
11 am Closing worship
12 noon Lunch followed by departure

Times are approximate. A detailed schedule will be sent in advance by the retreat leaders.

Flexible Fees

Full Cost*/Minimum
Single (large) $425/$225
Single (small) $400/$200
Double (per person) $365/$165

* This is the cost per person of the event to SotS.

Discernment questions regarding what to pay:

> Is the ‘Full Cost’ of this event within your means?
> If yes, can you pay a little more to support another?
> If the ‘Full Cost’ is not within your means, what can you pay?
> Have you considered asking your meeting or church for financial assistance?
> If the ‘Minimum’ is still too much, please contact us at or call 717.203.1642.


Registration is in TWO steps.

STEP 1: click on the button below to register. The form will ask for your personal information, your room and dietary preferences, and what you can pay.

STEP 2: instructions as to how to pay will appear on your Confirmation Page. Paying online will take you to PayPal where you can pay via credit card. You do NOT need a PayPal account to do this.

Alternatively you can send a check made out to the School of the Spirit Ministry, for the amount in the table. Mail your check to: The School of the Spirit Ministry, c/o 360 Blossom Hill Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601.

Cancellation Policy
30 days or more prior to the event, full refund less $20 processing fee. 14-29 days prior to the event, 50% refund. Less than 14 days, no refund.

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