2014 Called to Communion Retreat

Jul 19th, 2014 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Over the Fourth of July weekend, a number of Called to Communion contributors came together in Steubenville, OH, for a retreat partim spiritual renewal, partim business meeting, partim face-to-face fellowship.

CTC 2014 Retreat With Dr. Hahn outside the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Our retreat was hosted by Dr. Scott Hahn and some of the kind folks from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Rob Corzine and Suzanne Heaps. Many thanks to them for their hospitality and service! Contributors present for the retreat were David Anders, Tom Brown, Casey Chalk, Bryan Cross, Jason Kettinger, Josh Lim, Fred Nolte, and Barrett Turner. Joining us were revered guest contributors and commentators Michael Liccione and Ray Stamper. We were also privileged to have Jed Park with us, who was received into the Church two years ago and is an adelphos of David Anders. (Does that mean he is David’s sibling or cousin?) Many thanks also to Tom Brown for organizing and leading this retreat.

IMG_0392 Tom Brown, Organizer

photo3 The way Dr. Liccione folds his hands on his belly is hilarious.

In large part, these annual retreats have been a blessing for us because we see one another in the flesh, a fitting incarnation of our online friendship and unified activity here at Called to Communion. Our first retreat was in New Orleans, the past two in Steubenville. Each retreat has been a time for prayer, catching up with one another, and planning the future of the blog.

The retreat afforded us time in prayer together in the presence of the Lord Jesus. We prayed the evening and morning offices, praising and imploring the Most High using the Psalms, canticles from the mouths of the Blessed Virgin and St. Zechariah, short Scripture readings, and other hymns and songs. On Saturday, we participated together in Holy Mass, said by Fr. Jonas Shell of St. Peter’s in Steubenville. To be gathered around the New Testament in His Blood, to be nurtured upon the Sacrifice that makes our peace with God, was the highlight of the trip. We had the opportunity to do so again on Sunday morning at historic St. Peter’s in Steubenville. The devotion of the parishioners and the beauty of the Church were of great help in lifting up our hearts to God. As far as our own sacrifices, well, we gave up watching the Argentina-Belgium and Netherlands-Costa Rica matches to be in Steubenville by Friday evening…

IMG_0387 Josh Lim and Fr. Shell

Naturally, cloistering well-read laymen enthusiastic about theology in a house led to wide-ranging conversations, more often than not somehow instigated by the intellect of Dr. Liccione. These included discussions of about the creation of man, his elevation in grace, and evolution; necessity in God and in creation; and listening to Josh Lim discuss his thesis on created and uncreated grace in St. Thomas, St. Maximus the Confessor, and Gregory Palamas. We also grew closer together by sharing stories about God’s goodness in our lives, including spiritual testimonies about our journeys to full communion with the Catholic Church. Other conversations discussed Eucharistic adoration as an avenue of conversion and the potential of each person for the three stages of the spiritual life. Dr. Hahn was kind enough to join us for some meals and to add to the discussion by asking questions and listening to us. He spoke to us on Saturday night about the New Covenant and about the love of Mary.


On Saturday we were able to discuss our activities here at Called to Communion. We had a presentation on the practices necessary for internet dialogue, as well as the dangers of the same. Our afternoon business meeting yielded exciting plans for the next year. We hope to post more on the Catholic spiritual life, as well as bring back writings emphasizing common doctrinal and practical elements between the Catholic Church and the Reformed tradition.

We also had time for being together as brothers. We shared some wonderful meals prepared by Rob and Suzanne. We talked late into the night over drinks. In the name of unity, some gentlemen brought bourbon to stave off a looming schism over Irish versus Scotch whisky. Two men found a canoe and paddled out into the lake. Others threw the baseball around, some went running, all enjoyed each other. The isolation of the place gave us a beautiful night sky filled with stars and a bright crescent moon.

photo7 You don’t think you’re wearing that to Mass, do you?

On Sunday after Mass, we had the opportunity to see the new location of the St. Paul Center on the campus of Franciscan University, where Dr. Hahn is a professor. After lunch and some very interesting discussion regarding Scripture, the concept of “covenant”, and theology, we paused for a group photograph and headed our separate ways. The weekend was too quickly over, but our time together was a well-spent retreat.


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  1. Barrett,

    Thanks for the summary of the retreat. I was sorry to miss this one. Virtue lies in the mean, and pleasure in the better whiskey, so bourbon is the clear choice for the man of peace and good taste. This also reminds me to bug Josh Lim for a copy of his thesis.

    Wishing you all a blessed Feast of St. Elijah,


  2. Hi,

    Firstly, the lodge you guys shared reminded me of the lodge that Stephen visited with his fellow ministers in Marcus Grodi’s novel.

    Real reason I am writing is to ask if CtC could make more interviews available. I often multi-task on the computer and have audio as background music. CtC has a number of great interviews but I’ve heard them so often. New ones would be a blessing.

    Pax Christi


  3. Tom Brown very kindly invited me to this – I was not able to make it. Our University is in process of reorganising everyone and I might be made redundant (though now it is looking like I will keep my job). I would love to be able to come to a future retreat if one is held.


  4. Gentlemen,
    Thanks for this post, giving us a “behind the scenes” glimpse at how you are striving for fellowship, for a coordinated plan for this website, and for unity with Jesus Christ! I didn’t realize that you have made coming together in one place an annual effort. It is part of the genius of this whole effort of Called to Communion: far from a collection of musings of multiple authors, this site unfolds a series of posts and articles as part of a unified plan. Far from being disembodied internet “voices” to one another, you spend time and money to ensure that you share face-to-face fellowship. And your efforts are not simply intellectual and social, since you seek to ground them in prayer, in the study of scripture, and in sharing the sacraments of Jesus Christ poured out through the Church.

    Keep your readers in prayer; we are praying for all of you. May Christ abundantly bless you for the your efforts toward Christian unity in truth.


  5. I know you guys are way above my league but deep inside, I do hope that someday you guys would have a get together or retreat that is open to all and I’ll fly my bum all the way from Singapore to meet y’all!

  6. John, I’m still holding out hope for “Called To Communion: The Worldwide Speaking Tour.” :-)

  7. Hi John (#5),

    I’m actually not that far from you, and will be in the SE Asian region for a while. If you like, send an email to the CTC webmaster and we can connect. cheers, Casey

  8. Done! Thanks Casey!

    John Tan

  9. It was such a rich blessing to be in person with these men. The internet is a wonderful way to connect with people, but also very much lacking in a material way.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom B.

  10. Hello CtC:

    This looks like a wonderful time of fellowship and communion for you. I was just wondering if you know how someone who might be following your site, like myself, might find like minded individuals like yourselves to converse with and commune with in person or at least video Skype or something? If you have some information, please let me know.

    God bless,

    Natasha W.

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