The Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, CA is the destination for members of the Serra churchViatorians next week, who will descend on the Catholic retreat center — nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains.

While Viatorians take retreats every year — including once a year at the Province Center — this is the first time in recent memory that the professed members are gathering at a remote location.Serra vista

“The setting will certainly enhance our retreat,” says Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, provincial. “It’s an opportunity for personal reflection and solitude.”

Fr. Felix Just, SJ., the president and executive director of the Loyola Institute for Spiritual Studies in Orange, CA, who has a doctorate in New Testament studies, will lead the retreat. Fr. Felix Just

Together they will explore the Gospel of Luke, which often is categorized as the “Gospel of Mercy.”

In gathering together, Viatorians are carrying on a tradition that dates back to their earliest years, though the retreat center in scenic California is a far cry from the retreats of old.

A look back at a daily itinerary from a Viatorian retreat in 1945 called for rising at 6 a.m. for morning prayer and meditation, before celebrating Mass and exploring the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary during breakfast.

Retreat for Religious - Fr. French, provincial with arms folded

Elements of the retreat included an examination of conscience, three hours of silence, followed by Stations of the Cross, a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the rosary and dinner in silence.

“Yes, much has changed since then,” Fr. von Behren adds. “This one can be as silent as we want. If we see someone walking alone, then we need to respect that and allow them some space for quiet meditation.”Serra view

The Malibu retreat has drawn Viatorians of all ages — including its youngest and oldest members — from all of its sites in the United States.

“The idea of being somewhere with a group of our own was appealing,” says Fr. John Milton, CSV. “It’s a good geographical mix.”