The Bethany Retreat House in Dickson, which is run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, will host two retreats this fall open to the people of the Diocese of Nashville. The Sisters want more people to take advantage of the facilities to renew their spiritual lives.
Bethany Retreat House in Dickson, which is run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, is the site of two retreats this fall. The first one, “True Devotion to Mary,” will be hosted by the Legion of Mary of Middle Tennessee on Oct. 29. The second one, “Becoming a Woman of God,” will be run by the Dominican Sisters and will be held Nov. 18-20.
The “True Devotion to Mary” retreat is open to all people in the Diocese of Nashville and the “Becoming a Woman of God” weekend is open to all women in the diocese ages 18 and older.
The Middle Tennessee chapter of the Legion of Mary is hosting its retreat as a means of sparking a renewed interest in the Legion of Mary across Nashville. The organization, which is known for its devotion to the Rosary, to fellowship, and to the Corporal Works of Mercy, used to be a widespread presence in the Diocese of Nashville.
“It’s currently the largest lay apostolic group in the worldwide Church,” said Joyce Brokaw, president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Legion and a parishioner at St. Stephen Church. “But in the United States, membership numbers are lower than in other countries.”
The first chapter in the Diocese of Nashville was established at Christ the King Church in the 1950s. “There used to be a Legion at every parish in Nashville. But that’s not the case anymore,” Brokaw said. “We’re hoping this retreat gets people interested in joining or starting a Legion at their own churches.”
The guest speaker will be Deacon Cody Miller, who is an expert on Mariology, the study of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Mary is really his passion,” Brokaw said. “Plus, I’ve been told he’s a very dynamic speaker. He’s going to speak to us on consecration to Jesus through Mary, as it is discussed by St. Louis de Montefort.”
The day-long event will also include breakfast, lunch, Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, Mass with Father John O’Neill, and the Catena, which is a prayer based upon the Magnificat.
“St. John Paul II called the Catena a hymn to Divine Mercy. And there’s no better way to close out the … Year of Mercy than by growing closer to Mary, our Mother of Mercy,” Brokaw said.
“People of every age are welcome. If you’re interested in growing closer to Jesus through Mary, please join us,” Brokaw said. “You won’t regret it.”
The “Becoming a Woman of God” retreat will be centered on reflecting upon Jesus’ encounters with women in the Gospels.
“If you study the way Jesus encountered women, you’ll notice He loved them in a very unique way,” said Sister Mary Madeline Todd, O.P., keynote speaker and retreat leader of “Becoming a Woman of God.” “That has a lot of relevance for women today.”
The retreat will also include breakfast, lunch and dinner; Mass celebrated by Fathers Dan Reehill and John O’Neill, Eucharistic adoration and opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Penance.
Sister Mary Madeline encourages all women ages 18 and up to attend; whether it’s only on Saturday or for the full three days.
“In our busy lives nowadays, God calls us to take the time to be with Him. And I hope all women who attend can listen to God, discover a truth about Him or themselves that is meaningful for their lives, and return to their daily responsibilities with a greater sense of faith and joy,” she said.
Bethany House was originally meant to be a convent for the Dominican Sisters who teach at St. Patrick School in McEwen. “Our Prioress General, Mother Ann Marie, came across this property and thought it would be a great living space for the McEwen Dominican Sisters who teach out here,” Sister Mary Madeline explained. “But upon further examination, she decided it was not the best fit for a convent. However, it was the perfect setting for a retreat center, especially out in the beauty of God’s creation.
“Our friends Gayle and Tom Benson (the owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints), along with many other benefactors, donated the money we needed to clear the land and renovate it to make it a welcoming place for guests,” said Sister Mary Madeline.
Bethany House was named after the hometown of Martha and Mary, two of Jesus’s closest friends, Sister Mary Madeline said. “When Jesus would come to visit them, they would minister to Him after His long journey there. We strive to offer that same hospitality to our guests, and give them a quiet place to come away for a little while and connect with God.”
Parents of St. Patrick students were the first guests at Bethany. “Since the Dominican Order’s main ministries are teaching and preaching, we thought we’d first open Bethany to our students’ parents,” Sister Mary Madeline said. “Moms and dads lead stressful lives, and they need opportunities to recharge their batteries and spend extra time with God. So we’ve done lots of programming with them.”
Since then, many other groups have come to Bethany House for a prayerful weekend. The Sisters hope that many more people and groups will visit.
“We’ve had Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for post-abortive women. We’ve had chaplaincy groups come. We’ve had daytime retreats. We’ve had people come from out of state,” Sister Mary Madeline said. “We really want people to use our facilities to help their relationship with God. So if you want to join us, please call us for reservations and the Sisters will make arrangements for you to come. We’d love to have you.”
Those who want to attend the “Becoming a Woman of God” retreat can call 615-446-2063 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost for all three days is $150 and cost for attending Saturday only is $50.
Those interested in the “True Devotion to Mary” retreat can contact Brokaw at 615-452-9279 or at email@example.com. The registration fee is $25.