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Five day trips to deepen your faith

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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.

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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.  

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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 Union Streets.


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.


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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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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017