Commonly Asked Questions

Why might I want to go on retreat?

Taking a time away from the demands of everyday life, to be quiet, to pray, to worship, to read, rest, and relax, allows us to refocus our lives on what is most important to us. Some people come on retreat at moments of transition, where they feel the need for particular discernment. Others come on retreat simply to refresh and renew their spirit. Our relationship with God, like all human relationships, needs attention and care to grow. Times of retreat allow us to turn our whole selves to God, to listen and be attentive to the voice of God. Many people experience retreats as times when God seems particularly near.

What will I do with my time?

The Brothers meet for several services marking the hours of each day, beginning with Morning Prayer and ending with Compline at its close. On most days, brothers and guests will also gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. We invite guests to join us for all of these services, or as many as they wish. Three meals punctuate the day as we eat together, often in silence, with one brother reading aloud from a book or while listening to recorded music.

Between these hours, our chapels are open to guests for silent prayer and meditation. Our collection of books on spirituality, of biography or fiction might tempt you. Our houses are situated in beautiful natural settings conducive to recreation, offering paths for walking or jogging. Many guests report, after a retreat, how surprised they were by the rich joy of being able to rest, even to the point of napping for long hours each day!

What days can I come on retreat?

Guests may arrive at our houses from Tuesday through Friday, depending on the length of their stay. There are normally no arrivals on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

At the Monastery you may arrive between 11:30 am to 12:15pm,
or between 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
At Emery House you may arrive between 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

If you cannot arrive within these windows, please call to verify that an alternate arrangement is possible.

All guests leave by Sunday afternoon, when our guest facilities close for the Brothers’ Sabbath, from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning.

Why aren’t more dates available?

Many weekends are already booked with groups who fill our guest facilities to capacity, while others find the brothers leading retreats away from our houses at churches throughout North America. Our houses are also closed at other times for the Brothers to attend to the Community’s needs in chapter meetings, and to their own needs for retreat, solitude, prayer, and contemplation.

If you cannot find a weekend opening, try a weekday retreat: we often have availability during the week. Because space for retreats is quite limited, we reserve the right to decline applications for retreats or to place applicants who have made a number of retreats with us in the past on a waiting list. Deposit checks will be returned to any applicants declined or placed on a waiting list.

Can I meet with a Brother during my stay?

If you would like to meet with a Brother for spiritual direction during your stay, please schedule an Individual Companioned Retreat. See the “Take a Retreat With Us” page for more information.

(Brothers may be available at other times for individual meetings, but this is not always possible and cannot be guaranteed.) 

What about the details: directions and parking?

For directions to the monastery and maps, click here. Please note that both our houses are readily accessible via public transportation.

Due to community, staff, and emergency access needs, guest parking is not available at the Monastery in Cambridge. (For-fee, public parking garages are available nearby.)

Guest parking in two lots is available at Emery House, West Newbury.

How can I schedule a retreat?

To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.

To secure a reservation, you’ll need to make a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the total retreat cost.

About Emery House

We Brothers are delighted to be able to invite guests and retreatants to join us at Emery House. Located on the border of West Newbury and Newburyport, Emery House provides a quiet atmosphere for prayer, reflection, and retreat in the context of a monastic community.

Please click here for information on program retreats for individuals. For individual self-guided, companioned, or group retreats please contact the Guesthouse manager or 617.876.3037×10.

We invite you to explore the links below to learn more about Emery House.

Staying at Emery House
 The Chapel of the Transfiguration
The Property
An Atmosphere of Silence

Staying at Emery House

The Emery House property consists of multiple buildings: a 15-room main house begun in 1720, six small hermitages, and two small 10×10 cabins in the forest used by retreatants in the summer. The majority of our retreatants stay in the six small hermitages built around a courtyard.

The Brothers living at Emery House are pleased to offer hospitality, meals, and occasional spiritual direction for those on individual and group retreats.

Guests are also invited to join in the Brothers’ daily worship (Morning Prayer, Holy Eucharist, Evening Prayer, and Compline), which follows The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Emery House is normally open to guests from Tuesday afternoons through early afternoon on Sundays and is closed on Mondays for the brothers’ day of Sabbath rest

To book a retreat, please contact the Guesthouse Manager and Receptionist at (617) 876-3037, extension 10, or e-mail guesthouse@ssje.org.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration

The Brothers at Emery House follow the traditional monastic practice of singing the Daily Office – Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline – and we celebrate the Holy Eucharist most days. Retreatants are invited to attend any of the daily services. The chapel is also open day and night to retreatants for personal prayer and meditation.

We seek to offer silence and sanctuary for our retreatants, free from intrusion, and our chapel size is quite limited. Because of this, we are unable to accommodate “walk-in” guests. (In Cambridge, the Monastery chapel is open to everyone for all services and as a quiet sanctuary for personal prayer.)

The Emery House Property

Emery House is situated on 144 acres, bounded by the Merrimack River on the north, by the Artichoke River on the east, by Route 113 on the south, and by a stone wall running through the woods on the west. A walking trail follows the upper perimeter of the land overlooking the Merrimack River. Another trail cuts through the woods between the two cabins south of the main house. There are also trails through the woods along the west side of the property including a colonial era stone stepping bridge. If you would like a map of the property, please see the guest brother.

We invite you to roam this beautiful property during your stay.

Click here to read more about the ecology around Emery House.
Click here to read more about the history of Emery House.

An Atmosphere of Silence

We strive to maintain an atmosphere of silence at Emery House as the climate in which each person can find the prayer and meditation to which God might be calling that individual.

The Greater Silence begins immediately after Compline and ends the next morning after breakfast (usually at 9:00 AM).

To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.

About the Monastery & Guesthouse

Our Monastery and Guesthouse aim to offer spaces of silence, beauty, and simple comfort to guests, for an hour, a day, or for a longer visit.

The Monastery and Guesthouse are located on Memorial Drive, just off Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and face on the Charles River and its flanking parklands designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.

The Monastery Chapel

Dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint John, is considered by some to be the masterpiece of the great twentieth century American architect, Ralph Adams Cram.  Built in the French Romanesque style, the Chapel conveys the essence of the early Christian basilica on a small scale.  It features classic pillars and arches made from Indiana limestone; marble floors in the choir and sanctuary; beautiful stained glass windows designed by Charles J. Connick; and a baldachino standing above and glorifying the high altar.  We invite guests staying in the Guesthouse, as well as the public, to use the Chapel as a sanctuary for their prayer and reflection.

The Guesthouse

Built in 1924-1928, was also designed by Cram, and it served as the original Monastery building until Cram designed the Chapel and the rest of the monastic complex, including living quarters and a cloister for the brothers, in the mid-1930’s.  Built at the height of the Great Depression, the current buildings were completed in 1936.

Our Guesthouse facilities include twelve single bedrooms, large and small meeting rooms, chapels for private and corporate prayer, and a garden.
Extensive renovations made in 2010 – 2011 have added entrances for those with special needs, fully accessible bathrooms, and a guest refectory and kitchen.

For photo tours of the Monastery & Guesthouse, please click here.

To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.

Workshops at the Monastery

Saturday workshops at the Monastery are a great way to start your weekend:

Current Workshops:

    Workshops begin at 9:00am and run until 12:15. All participants are invited to stay and join the Brothers for Noonday Prayer at 12:30 p.m.
    To reserve a place, click on the workshop you would like to attend and complete the form and payment.

    Costs: Full Price $40, Student Price $20

    Workshop location: the Monastery Undercroft, 980 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, 02138. To get to the Undercroft, enter the Guesthouse garden through the gate to the left of the Chapel; signs will indicate the door down to the undercroft.

     

    Program Retreats for Groups

    Program retreats are offered for individuals, or for various types of groups (parish, seminarians, clergy, vestries, etc.).

    In addition to joining the Brothers in the house’s regular round of worship, silence, and meals, guests attends a series of addresses or meditations on a retreat theme, offered by the brother who is the retreat director. Time is set apart to encourage prayer, reflection, and recreation. Customarily, all on the retreat will observe silence.

    Group program retreats are usually conducted from Thursday or Friday evening through Sunday noontime. Occasionally a group can book a longer retreat, beginning on Tuesday evening.

    Please note: During these retreats individual spiritual direction is normally not available.

    Suggested fees for a Group Program Retreat 
    We strive to make retreat time available to all who seek it. (Suggested fees can be reduced in cases of financial hardship.)
    However, the suggested fees cover only a portion of the expenses for making our facilities available. We are grateful for any additional donations in support of our retreat ministry. 

    $135.00 per person per night
    $75.00 for students/young adults

    Reservations are confirmed upon receipt of a non-refundable deposit equal to 50% of your total fee.

    To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.


    Types of Retreats

    We offer three different types of retreats at the Monastery Guesthouse and at Emery House. Please click to explore these retreats.

    Program Retreats for Individuals

    In addition to joining the Brothers in the house’s regular round of worship, silence, and meals, guests attends a series of addresses or meditations on a retreat theme, offered by the brother who is the retreat director. Time is set apart to encourage prayer, reflection, and recreation. Customarily, all on the retreat will observe silence.

    Program Retreats at the Monastery

      Program Retreats at Emery House

      To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.


      Types of Retreats

      We offer three different types of retreats at the Monastery Guesthouse and at Emery House. Please click to explore these retreats.

      Individual Guided Retreats

      Guests on an individual guided retreat visit us for a time of reflection and prayer in silence and to meet with a brother for some time of individual spiritual direction. They also have opportunity to join the Brothers in the house’s regular round of worship, silence, and meals.

      Most weekdays and some weekends are available for individual retreats.

      Please note: For these retreats spiritual direction must be requested in advance and is subject to availability of a brother for the time of the retreat.

      Suggested fees for a Companioned Retreat 
      We strive to make retreat time available to all who seek it. (Suggested fees can be reduced in cases of financial hardship.)
      However, the suggested fees cover only a portion of the expenses for making our facilities available. We are grateful for any additional donations in support of our retreat ministry.

      $100.00 per person per night + $25.00 per spiritual conversation
      $50.00 for students/young adults + $15.00 per spiritual conversation

      Reservations are confirmed upon receipt of a non-refundable deposit equal to 50% of your total fee.

      To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.


      Types of Retreats

      We offer three different types of retreats at the Monastery Guesthouse and at Emery House. Please click to explore these retreats.

      Individual Self-Guided Retreats

      Guests on an individual guided retreat visit us for a time of reflection and prayer in silence. They also have opportunity to join the Brothers in the house’s regular round of worship, silence, and meals.

      Suggested fees for Retreat 
      We strive to make retreat time available to all who seek it. (Suggested fees can be reduced in cases of financial hardship.)
      However, the suggested fees cover only a portion of the expenses for making our facilities available. We are grateful for any additional donations in support of our retreat ministry.

      $100.00 per person per night
      $50.00 for students/young adults

      Reservations are confirmed upon receipt of a non-refundable deposit equal to 50% of your total fee.

      To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.


      Types of Retreats

      We offer three different types of retreats at the Monastery Guesthouse and at Emery House. Please click to explore these retreats.

      Deeper Into Silence – June 20-25, 2017

      A Five-Day Immersion Retreat

      Tuesday 5:00 pm-Sunday 2:00 pm, June 20-25, 2017
      Leaders: Brs. Nicholas Bartoli and Keith Nelson, SSJE

      St. John of the Cross wrote “Silence is God’s first language.” On this five-day retreat, participants will have the opportunity for a deep and sustained immersion in contemplative silence, in the nourishing environs of Emery House. The days will be framed by periods of silent sitting together, spacious opportunity for solitude, the rhythm of the Brothers’ worship, silent meals, and reflections on the role of silence in our life with God, self and each other. Individual guidance from Brothers will be available as desired. This retreat is ideal for those who have been practicing some form of contemplative prayer or meditation on their own but would like to ground their prayer more deeply while being held in a community of support.

      Prerequisite: a daily practice of silent/contemplative prayer.

      Inquire about a place:

      Program Retreat Inquiry

      Contact Details





      Need assistance with this form?

      To book a retreat, at either the Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, please contact the Guesthouse Manager/Receptionist by e-mail at guesthouse@ssje.org or by telephone at (617) 876-3037 extension 10.