Jesuit Retreat House
on Lake Winnebago
4800 Fahrnwald Road Oshkosh, WI 54901-7598
(920) 231-9060 Fax: (920) 231-9094
Toll Free (WI only): 1-800-962-7330

June 27,2000

Dear Frank,

This is in reply to your JC project letter of a few days ago. I am answering briefly, because we are not doing much, and right away, because otherwise it might never get done, and that is a shabby way to treat a person doing a great project. It does, however, give me a chance to reflect on this important matter.

We have about 3000 retreatants a year, who come for the most part for weekend retreats during the year and for 8-day directed retreats during the summer months. There is among them a wonderful diversity in age, education and social background. But there is little religious diversity, since except for an occasional Jew or Buddhist, they are all Catholic and Protestant. There is plenty of diversity among these latter, though we have fewer conservative Christians than other places, I think.

We have no special programs which draw upon other traditions, and no one on the staff has a special expertise or interest in other religious traditions. I spent 20 years in South Korea and have a degree of familiarity with Eastern religions, which probably affect my presentations in an indirect way or through centering prayer sessions. But for the most part we stress the Spiritual Exercises. This plus a small staff, the needs of our area and our limitations lead us to have a rather narrow focus.

The one area that we have chosen as our intentional means of serving the poor and dealing in a broader context is our work in 12-Step retreats. We have 10 such retreats a year built on the 12-Steps, with program people directing the retreats. There is more hidden away in this ministry than many would guess in terms of how God works in the lives of recovering people. I think we are all more open to diversity in this area than our lack of specific programs would indicate. It is all we can do, and we try to do it well.

Though there is nothing in this to directly answer your questions or to aid in your project, I personally want to thank you for your research, writing and activity. Without you our minds grow more narrow under the demands of our daily and weekly ministry, and we can easily forget that there is a whole world out there which we need to be aware of. Raising our consciousness is itself a wonderful service to us.

Blessings on you and the project.

In the Lord, Richard F. McCaslin, S.J.

Created: October 4, 2000 Updated: October 4, 2000