You’ve spent the daily commute to work stuck in endless traffic.
You feel the need to get away, but the last thing you want to do is get back in
the car. Your spiritual life might have taken the backburner to daily
obligations. Sometimes getting away from home can provide an opportunity to
reconnect with God. You don’t have to venture far from the Washington metro area
to enjoy spiritual places, including retreat facilities, shrines and churches.
Here are a few of my favorites within a three-hour drive.
Loyola on the Potomac
9270 Loyola Retreat Rd., Faulkner, Md.
Loyola on the Potomac is a Jesuit retreat house founded in 1958
and surrounded by 235 acres of woodland. It offer retreats and programs
throughout the year, including private and directed retreats. With beautiful
views overlooking the Potomac River, visitors can stay in one of 70 individual
bedrooms with a half bath. There are two chapels, sitting areas, a bookstore
and hiking trails, and two Stations of the Cross pathways through the property.
National Shrine of St. John Neumann
1019 N. 5th St., Philadelphia
St. John Neumann was canonized 40 years ago. Following a short
drive to Philadelphia, you can pray before his remains in the lower level of
St. Peter the Apostle Church, where the shrine is located. St. John Neumann, a
Redemptorist missionary and superior, and the bishop of Philadelphia, died in
1860 at age 48. Stained-glass windows and statues in the shrine tell the story
of his work with children and the schools he founded during his time as bishop.
St. Mary’s Church
109 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis, Md.
The history of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis dates back to the
Declaration of Independence. The church and rectory are located on land donated
by four granddaughters of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic
signer of the Declaration of Independence. The church was established in 1853
by the Redemptorists. St. John Neumann blessed the cornerstone and bell in
1858. In 2010, the parish celebrated the 150th anniversary of its dedication.
St. Ann Church
2013 Gilpin Ave., Wilmington, Del.
When you walk into St. Ann Church, you are entering the basement.
The church opened first in 1868 as St. James Chapel on Lovering Avenue. It
moved to its current location in December 1887 with a one-story building after
the B&O Railroad built tracks too close to the chapel. The church, named
after Ann Lyons, the mother of Father John Lyons, vicar general of the
Wilmington Diocese, was dedicated to St. Ann, the mother of Mary. Father Lyons
funded a large part of the $9,911 original construction costs on Gilpin and
In 1892, a second level was added and in 1933 the church was lowered.
The basement level became the church and entrance level. The choir loft is where
the original church was located. An adoration chapel, which was open 24 hours a
day until last year, has limited hours due to safety concerns.
National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel
1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, Pa.
Through the end of 2017, you can make a pilgrimage to the
national shrine in Bensalem at the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament convent. The
convent is for sale and St. Katharine Drexel’s tomb eventually will be moved to
the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. St. Katharine
was born in Philadelphia in 1858 and died in 1955. She founded the Sisters of
the Blessed Sacrament and several schools for the poor around the country. The
shrine offers the opportunity to learn about St. Katharine and her family. There
are artifacts of the saint, including her wheelchair and woven rugs given to
her by the Navajo in Arizona, for whom she supported a mission begun by the
Cincinnati Franciscan Friars. Visitors can leave their petitions in the Apache
Burden Basket next to St. Katharine’s crypt. The intentions are prayed for
daily by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
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