With larger groups Preached or Conference type retreats offer an experience centering around a central theme, ie prayer, scripture, the life of Jesus, masculine or feminine spirituality. A presenter or retreat leader provides talks at intervals during the day with times of silence and reflection in between. Often these are weekend or week-
Guided Retreats provide for smaller groups of people (usually not more than 25) the time and space to gather for a daily reflection (sometimes several times per day) and then to be on their own for the remainder of the day. Retreatants may meet individually with a spiritual companion for spiritual direction. In some such retreats, opportunity may be provided for group conversation to share retreatants’ responses and inner movements.
For those seeking a more extended retreat experience, there are Directed Retreats for a day or two to as long as 30 days. There is daily opportunity for the retreatant to meet with a companion for spiritual direction. This daily companioning complements the retreatants’ prayer experience. It is often in the context of a Directed Retreat that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are experienced.
Personal Retreats are for those who seek time alone without a spiritual companion or a group of other retreatants. The time is structured around quiet, prayer, spiritual reading, and reflection according to the needs and desire of the retreatant.
Retreat Centers often provide a variety of retreat experiences for young people, married couples, people seeking a retreat experience while continuing to engage in their daily activities at home and work. These centers also open their facilities for groups from local parishes and church judicatories (dioceses, synods, conferences, districts. etc.)
Folks who plan and give retreats are increasingly more dedicated to healing some of the splits coming from a long history of dualism. To that end, programs are offered which point to the importance of mind/body/spirit connections. In addition, offerings more and more reflect the importance of a spirituality that calls retreatants to be good stewards in the world, not fleeing from the world but embracing the world as God’s gift to be sustained, nourished, and cared for.