Programs & Retreats

Event Details

CANCELLED - Healed and Whole Forever: Cultivating a Sense of Place in a Time of Loss
Location: Conference Center
Category: Weekend Opportunities
Date: Friday June 16, 2023 through Sunday June 18, 2023
Cost: $295.00
Minimum Deposit: $100.00


7:00 pm June 16, 2023 to 12:00 pm June 18, 2023

Healed and Whole Forever: Cultivating a Sense of Place in a Time of Loss
with Douglas E. Christie, Ph.D.


“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” This simple statement by Wendell Berry captures so well the predicament and challenge of the present moment. How and why have we lost the capacity to see the world as sacred? What will it mean for us to recover a more holistic and sacramental way of seeing reality? Can we still learn, as Rilke puts it, to: “See everything and ourselves in everything healed and whole forever.” These are not abstract questions. How we respond to such questions will determine so much about our capacity to live in the world with deep feeling and to care for it as if it were “our common home.”

This retreat will create a space for thinking together about these questions, in particular the question of what it means to cultivate a sense of place; or what anthropologist Keith Basso calls the work of “place-making.” Each of us has a native place, the place where we came into the world. Even if we depart from it, our native place retains a powerful hold on us, inviting us to consider again and again what it means to be rooted in the earth, what it means to have an identity tied to a particular place. Something similar can be said of our “adopted places”—those places we have come to inhabit across the course of our lives and that we have come to consider a kind of home. Even so, we live in a time when more and more of us have lost hold of our feeling for the places where we live. When we have forgotten what it means to see or know these places, or why they matter to us.

Cultivating a sense of place is, then, a restorative, contemplative, healing work. For many of us, this work begins on a personal level, with a commitment to pay attention to the place or places that have formed us and to ask what it means to be part of a place, responsive to and responsible for it. But these personal questions almost inevitably open out onto larger, more encompassing questions, including questions and concerns about global climate change. “Place-making” invites us to cultivate what Pope Francis, in Laudato Si’, calls an “integral ecology,” a healing vision and practice of love for the earth.

Douglas E. Christie, Ph.D. is Professor of the Theological Studies Department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is the author of The Word in The Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism (Oxford), The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Note for a Contemplative Ecology (Oxford), and The Insurmountable Darkness of Love: Mysticism, Loss and the Common Life (Oxford, 2022). He is the founding editor of Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality (Johns Hopkins). He has been awarded fellowships from the Luce Foundation, the Lilly Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. From 2013-2015 he served as Co-director of the Casa de la Mateada study abroad program in Córdoba, Argentina, a faith-based program rooted in the Jesuit vision of education for solidarity. He lives in Los Angeles.


If you would like to register for this or any of our programs, there are several easy ways to do so. 
You may:
• click the "Register" link located at the bottom of this page
• call 724-964-8886 to speak with a member of our friendly staff
• complete and mail a printable registration form along with your payment to:

     Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center
     2067 Evergreen Road
     P.O. Box 424
     Villa Maria, PA 16155 

Refund Policy 

Additional Information:
Cost includes: Program, lodging, and meals from light supper on Friday to lunch on Sunday
For more information
Phone: 724-964-8886
March 2024
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