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Becoming attune with nature through ecological retreats

There is no shortage of nature as the Ignatius Jesuit Centre has 640 acres

Just off of Highway 6 sits the Ignatius Jesuit Centre with 640 acres to explore. This spring the centre will be offering nature retreats for people to gain a better understanding of the land.

The two retreats, one coming up in April, and the other in May, are themed around birds and land.

The retreat about land will have activities led by Byron Murray, who is a nature tracker. The bird retreat will be led by Matthew Iles, an ornithologist and outdoor educator.

The retreats run from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The centre has private sleeping accommodations. There is an option to attend a retreat but not stay overnight.

The rooms are simple but have everything one needs, like a traditional retreat, there aren’t any luxuries, said Greg Kennedy, retreat facilitator and spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre.

“If you spend time in nature you’re going to have a spiritual experience if you’re open to what’s out there. It doesn’t necessarily have to be religious,” he said. 

Although the centre does host spiritual retreats, the newly-offered retreats are meant to entice a wide array of people to join irregardless of religious affiliation. 

Some Guelphites don’t know the centre exists, said Kennedy.

“We are part of nature and we actually communicate with nature, if we listen carefully and respond,” he said.

The hope is for retreat participants to deepen their love for the natural world and learn something new, Kennedy said.

There is a reflective sense to the retreat, by asking “how do we relate to these creatures?” said Kennedy. 

Rest and respite is another key part of the retreat.

“This whole notion of ecological engagement is part of us looking back at who was here before and trying to make connections, make relationships with people that want to be here now,” Kennedy said.

Prices range from $196 to $325 with meals and activities included in the price. The meals are buffet style and ingredients from the centre’s farm are often used. There is room for 37 participants to stay for two nights.

The profits go back into the centre since it is a non-profit organization which aims to provide spiritual and ecological engagement.