FAQ about Retreats

What is a retreat?
Any break from routine is usually good to re-charge the batteries and refresh your outlook on things. A retreat is merely a different kind of break, one that offers you the opportunity and mental space to renew your friendship with God or perhaps to meet him for the first time.

What is Lismullin Conference Centre?
Lismullin Conference Centre was built by Lismullin Educational Foundation as a venue for retreats and seminars. All this is done with the inspiration of the message of Opus Dei with its mission is to spread the message that work and the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.

It includes the original Lismullin House and has been extended to comprise two oratories, a catering department, and 44 bedrooms (including 30 en-suite).

Lismullin Educational Foundation is a business name of Fiuntas Centres Limited, a limited company which is recognised by the Revenue Commissioners as a body established for charitable purposes. Its CHY number is 12346.

Who runs the retreats at Lismullin? 
The retreats are run by Opus Dei. The priest gives the meditations and is available for the Sacrament of Confession, aswell as celebrating Mass. A lay person oversees the logistical arrangements of the retreat, give the talks, and ensures that everyone on the retreat has what they need and is available to answer queries and guide them in doing a good retreat.

I have a special diet.
That is no problem. In each room there will be a diet sheet for you to complete and then give to the person looking after the retreat. They will pass it on to the catering staff.

Accommodation.
The Lismullin complex is divided into Lismullin House and Lismullin Conference Centre. Both can be running separate activities simultaneous. 
In each, there is a comfortable sitting-room, a conference room and a few other smaller rooms. There is also a kitchenette where you make a cup of tea or have a snack if you need it. 
Together there are 44 bedrooms (including 30 en-suite). Bedrooms without an en-suite have easy access to a bathroom outside their bedroom.

What happens during the retreat?
The retreat begins with an introductory talk which explains everything you need to know about the retreat. You can also ask the person in charge any question you may have. The timetable differs a bit depending on the type of retreat. Here is a sample timetable:

9.20am Breakfast
10.30am Meditation
11.00am Examination of Conscience
12.15pm Mass
1.15pm Lunch
2.15pm Rosary
3.30pm Talk
4.45pm Meditation
6.15pm Dinner
7.15pm Eucharistic Adoration with Meditation
7.45pm Benediction
9.15pm Supper
10.00pm Gospel Commentary

The retreat for students can include a workshop on a particular topic.

It is my first retreat ever. What should I know before I arrive?
There are always people looking after the activities in Lismullin and they will make sure you have everything you need. The timetable each day includes Mass, meditations, Benediction, talks, the Rosary and then plenty of personal time for prayer on your own. Meals are provided by the staff of Lismullin Hospitality Services Centre, which adjoins the conference centre. There are plenty of books to read and you can also buy books to bring home.

Lismullin is also surrounded by nice grounds and nature where you can walk with peace and quiet.

What is a meditation?
On a retreat, there is plenty of time for personal prayer on you own. To help you to pray, the priest guiding the retreat also gives some talks in the oratory at intervals throughout the day. These are "meditations". Each meditation lasts for half an hour and has a specific theme, designed to help you understand the Gospel more clearly and see how you can be more like Christ in your life.
You can listen on-line to meditations given by priests of Opus Dei. It will give you an idea of what they are like.

I’m not used to praying so much!
Don’t worry! There will be people available to assist you, so as to make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle. They will also help you stretch yourself, in order for you to grow spiritually. As in sport, in the spiritual life you need to push yourself in order to improve, but gradually, in order to avoid ‘burning out’.

What is a talk?
Unlike a meditation, a talk is given by a lay person and does not take place in the oratory, but instead in the sitting room or in the classroom. Talks last between 20-30 minutes and cover similar topics to the meditations but tend to be more practical and directed to the circumstances of those attending the retreat, e.g., professionals, older people, young parents.

Do I need to be a Catholic to go on a retreat?
The retreat is structured around the sacraments of the Catholic Church and particularly the Mass. There is ample opportunity to avail of the sacrament of penance and, in addition, the timetable includes the praying of the Rosary for those who wish. In other words, the retreat is a Catholic one, but you do not need to be a Catholic in order to enjoy it and grow through it. Christ offers his friendship to everyone and a retreat can cast new lights on the life of every man or woman.

Do I have to attend all the activities of the retreat?
Not at all, but remember that all the elements of the retreat (the Mass, meditations, talks, etc.) are intended to help you to know Jesus Christ better and to guide you towards a deeper understanding of your faith. The more effort you put into the retreat, the more you gain, so it is worth while trying to attend everything.

Why is it a silent retreat?
The focus of the retreat is always Jesus Christ and the aim is to facilitate a personal and intimate encounter with him. Those attending the retreat are asked to minimise conversation and distractions so as to do a good retreat themselves and not to distract others.

What if I don't even know how to answer the prayers during Mass or the Rosary?
There are booklets available with all the texts of the prayers and of the Mass, so you will have no problem. You can still pray with the others even if you don't know the right words!

Do people share their experiences on the retreat?
No. The people looking after the retreat may ask you how you're getting on or if you need help with anything, and they will probably be able to suggest books for you to pray with, but you don't have to talk about yourself in a group or with the others on retreat, nor give personal testimonies.

Why are the retreats separate for men and for women?
The retreat is designed to help you meet God in prayer as an individual, because that is how he created you. And what he wants to say, he will say to you as a woman or as a man. The retreat, then, highlights these particularities to help you listen to him in a sincere way.

Why are there specific retreats for students, young professionals and for mothers of young children?
A lived Christianity presents very different challenges for each of these groups.

The many challenges teenagers face in secondary school (from their peers, and through social media and television), the new-found freedom of university life, competitiveness at the start of a career, a heightened emphasis on achievements, managing peer pressure and newly-won disposable income can make a Christian lifestyle seem harder to follow for young people. Busy mothers with young children often feel that they can only spend time with God at the expense of their family.

It helps when retreats are tailored to meet these very different needs in order to give people ways of meeting Jesus Christ in their own environment. There are also different retreats for school and university students for the same reason.

Can I study during the retreat?
A retreat is a great chance to get away from your everyday worries and occupations. So while it would not be the end of the world to study on a retreat, it would impoverish the experience.
If you are planning to do a retreat, perhaps you could try to study in advance, so as to free up that weekend completely. And remember, doing a very good retreat will help you go back to your studies with renewed enthusiasm, energies and a much better attitude. Thus a weekend away from the books will result in better study afterwards!

Is there a wi-fi connection in Lismullin?
Many people who go on retreats often cite ‘being offline’ for a weekend as one of the most attractive aspects of it. Try it! If you can avoid using your phone and connecting to the internet, you can be sure that you will get much more value out of a retreat than if you are constantly distracted by incoming texts, notifications and calls.
You’re welcome to give your friends/family the Lismullin landline number, in case of emergency.

I can't do the entire week-end or I need to leave early. Can I still do the retreat?
It's worth trying to do the whole retreat! If you can't, there may be another one listed on the brochure which would suit you better. Failing that, you can do as much of the retreat as you can, making arrangements with the organisers of the retreat so it is not distracting for others.