Editor’s Note: This reflection is written by Maureen Osuji, who stayed at the Washington Retreat House  for a time of personal retreat earlier this year. She spent much of her time prayerfully reflecting on the “Compassionate Hearts” retreat-in-a-box from Compass, available at WRH.

I was led by the Holy Spirit to do a retreat for the first three days of my birth month in April.

I had never been on a personal retreat before, so I had no clue how to go about it. The first question was: where would I do it?

I live and work in DC and wanted a location nearby so I wouldn’t have to travel too far. However, I also wanted a location that would give me the serene environment I needed for a successful retreat. In my search online I stumbled upon the Washington Retreat House.

I called and made a reservation; it was pretty easy and straightforward. Sister Sara Dwyer, ASC, director of the Washington Retreat House, was very pleasant. I told her what I wanted to do and she gave me a few suggestions on activities I could take part in during the retreat.


When I arrived at the venue, the first thing that struck me is how serene the whole place is. It is like an oasis. Almost in the middle of Washington, DC, with all the noise around, it somehow managed to feel like it was away from all the craziness around.

I loved the trees all around the building. In the morning you can hear the lovely sound of birds chirping. If you look out your window, depending on which side of the building you’re on, you can see the deer grazing.

So I had sorted out the location, but had another problem: what would I do during this retreat?
*in comes Sister Sara to the rescue!

She had taken the liberty of ordering me a special “retreat-in-a-box.” It contained reflections and a mystery gift. I am always up for trying out new things, so I took her up on the offer. That’s when the real adventure began.

The box contained three different reflections and prompts, a candle, writing materials, and a gift that you are told not to open until the middle of the retreat.


As I opened the first reflection, I was in awe of how it exactly captured what I was feeling then and there. It was as if God was speaking to me directly through those words; it resonated deeply with me. When the second reflection came, I finally was able to open the mystery gift. I was moved by how thoughtful the gift was, having a beautiful reminder of this time to take home with me. I commend the team at Compass who put together these prayer boxes. It made my retreat much more meaningful. By the second day, I felt like a new person! My heart was filled with so much love and light.

I cannot complete reviewing my experience without talking about Sister Marie, who cooked for me throughout the weekend. She is such a sweet lady and her meals were delicious. She paid attention to my special needs and requests.

The hospitality and service at the Washington Retreat House is amazing. The staff went above and beyond my expectations, and the retreat box was the icing on the cake for me! I had a great time there.

If you are looking for a serene environment to build intimacy with God or maybe just want a place for your next personal/group retreat, the Washington Retreat House is the best choice!