WE must now speak of the renunciations, of which tradition and the authority of Holy Scripture show us three, and which every one of us ought with the utmost zeal to make complete. The first is that by which as far as the body is concerned we make light of all the wealth and goods of this world; the second, that by which we reject the fashions and vices and former affections of soul and flesh; the third, that by which we detach our soul from all present and visible things, and contemplate only things to come, and set our heart on what is invisible.


John Cassian























































































Spiritual Retreat

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For the divine office with the monks, there are some Liturgy of the Hours books for some retreat guests, but it is easier and better if you bring your smart phone or tablet or Kindle and download the free ibreviary app from the Apple App Store or Google Play before you arrive at the abbey. The other way to access the ibreviary is to read the offices on the ibreviary website.


The annual weekend spiritual retreat is held in the fall. Everyone is invited to this special retreat. You do not need to be an oblate to attend. If you are interested in Benedictine spirituality and a deeper prayer life, this retreat is for you.

The weekend consists of several conferences by Abbot Isaac, O.S.B., along with prayer and meals with the monks during the weekend.

We follow the monks' prayer and eating schedule throughout the weekend.

Oblates say it is the best event for Oblates and anyone else!

You will get a good introduction of what it means to live on monastic time.

The retreat is wonderful -- a highlight of the year as we prepare for Advent.

Basic information and the registration form is set out below:

November 2 (6:00 pm Check in).

Retreat ends November 4 at 11:00 am (after Sunday Mass).

Please eat dinner before arriving on Friday evening.

Cost $215 per person ($430 per couple) $115 per person if not staying overnight.

Cost includes meals on Saturday and Sunday breakfast.

Other questions? If you have a question now, please email the Oblate Office at or call Brother Giovanni at 813-228-8015.

Registration form:

Download registration form

MS Word format - Fill in, print, mail

PDF format - Fill in, print, mail

with your check to Retreat Center Office at the address on the registration form. The registration form has information about mailing your check, directions to abbey, parking, and check in.

● For directions to the abbey see the end of these FAQs.

● Check-in 6:00 pm Friday. Second floor lobby of Saint Leo Hall - the abbey (big, 4-story white building). Check-in in Pictures.

● Check out 11:00 am Sunday, end of retreat.

● Our retreat guest rooms are on the fourth floor.

● Picture of the historic abbey.


QUESTION: Is a deposit required?

Answer: No. The exact date for payment is on the registration form.

QUESTION: If I come on Saturday only is the cost $115?

Answer: Yes and that includes three meals with the monks on Saturday.

QUESTION: Are pictures permitted inside the abbey and church?

Answer: Yes.

QUESTION: What is the appropriate attire for the retreat?

Answer: Church casual. No shorts are permitted in the Church or the abbey’s dining room on the first floor.

QUESTION: I keep hearing the Lake Room is cold and that I should bring a sweater and a jacket. What happens if I decide not to bring a jacket and a sweater?

Answer: Most likely you will be cold. This is fair warning!

QUESTION: May I check in before 6:00 pm on Friday?

Answer: Perhaps if I arrive earlier on Friday. But it is best to plan on check-in at 6:00 pm. If you arrive early you can still enjoy the abbey grounds or pray or do lectio divina in the abbey church. Spend time sitting and watching the lake and listening.

QUESTION: Is there a subject for the retreat conferences?

Answer: Abbot Isaac leads conferences on some aspect of the spiritual life.

2018 Theme is The Names of God. Please make your own list, bring it to the retreat and also bring your favorite everyday Bible.

A program schedule may be available Friday in the first conference.

QUESTION: Do we share bathrooms?

Answer: Yes, there is one for women and one for men. There are two showers in each.

There is also a unisex bathroom with a shower.

And there is also a women's restroom without showers located in the middle of the fourth-floor hallway. .

A floor plan of the 4th floor of the abbey (where we will be staying) will be available at the check-in table in the second-floor Saint Leo Hall lobby.

QUESTION: Is there a ramp into the abbey and elevator to the fourth floor?

Answer: Yes. Several years ago an elderly monk used a scooter and he could zip around all over the abbey without any problems.

QUESTION: Are sheets and towels provided?

Answer: Yes

QUESTION: What about meals?

Answer: Please eat before arriving on Friday. We eat three meals with the monks on Saturday. On Sunday we have breakfast with the monks.

QUESTION: Is there a kitchen and eating area on the fourth floor?

Answer: Yes, there is a refrigerator (please label your items), a microwave, sink, and two coffee makers, napkins, cups, and a small table. The coffee drinkers tend to congregate here in the morning! Some people like to bring their own coffee makers.

QUESTION: Is it OK to bring a cooler with some food, snacks, drinks, or bottled water?

Answer: Yes, and wine and cheese is OK too. Whenever I am away overnight anyplace I always bring my own bottled water, but you may or may not depending on your preferences.

QUESTION: Should I bring an alarm clock?

Answer: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there any additional cost in addition to the registration fee I already paid?

Answer: No, you will not need any money except if you want to buy something at the abbey gift shop.

QUESTION: Is the abbey dining room on the first floor open all the time?

Answer: No, the abbey’s dining room is open only during the abbey’s meal times. The retreat kitchen on the fourth floor (where you will be staying) is always open.

QUESTION: How should we prepare for the retreat?

Answer: John Cassian wrote that the condition of our heart and mind before we begin prayer greatly influences how we pray. The same might be said for a spiritual retreat.

Everyone has their own way to prepare, but you might do extra times of lectio divina, more time in stillness, or praying parts of the divine office that you do not normally pray during the day.

While on the retreat we will be following the abbey’s prayer and eating schedule, you might try to move toward that pattern in the time leading up to the retreat.

But the main idea is that your retreat time can begin now in your own home and at work.

Here are some ideas:

• Pray the 150 psalms in the week before the retreat

• Learn about a saint whose feast day is during the retreat or in the time leading to the retreat

• Begin keeping a journal now

• Pray Vigils at night like the ancient monks

• Fast (Fasting is not when you abstain from all food. Fasting is often one regular meal and also two smaller meals that together do not equal a regular meal. The main idea is to bend and discipline your appetite as a promise to God.)

• Select a book to read before and during the retreat

• Select a theme to direct your thought, prayer, or reading before the retreat. A theme might be "prayer," or "forgiveness," "silence," or "God's love."

• Select a Lenten-type theme -- the life of monastics should always have the character of a Lenten observance. The abbey is not a hotel and its simple surroundings can help you leave all worldly distractions. Remember you are coming to the home of monks, this is where they live. You are invited to join the pattern and rhythm of their home.

• Spend more time in stillness

• Spend time at the abbey

• Get plenty of rest before the retreat

• Seek out times of stillness, think about the psalms and why they have been a favorite of monastics.

• Stop watching TV, movies, and cease following the news, sports, popular culture, celebrities, or listening to radio.

• Put four or eight of your names of God into lists that are in the form of Hebrew parallelism, defined with examples. An example using the key ideas of Benedictine Spirituality is here. As you prepare a similar list using the names of God, think about the spiritual benefits the mind and heart receives by ruminating on the relationships within the parallelism.

QUESTION: Is there any free time?

Answer: Most of the time we will be in conferences or following the monks' prayer and meal schedule. Typically there are a couple of hours of free time on Saturday afternoon.

QUESTION: May I swim in the Saint Leo University pool while on retreat?

Answer: Yes, if the pool is open. Please identify yourself to any university staff at the pool.

QUESTION: What materials or books should I bring?

Answer: Bring a Bible. Bring the Rule of Saint Benedict. Most people like to take notes and even keep a journal while on retreat. If you take notes you should also bring a pen or a pencil.

There will be some free time so a favorite book or two is always a good idea.

QUESTION: Has one of the oblates made a free MOBI format (Kindle) version of the Rule of Saint Benedict I could have for my phone or tablet or computer?

Answer: Yes, oblate Ken Conrad made one. Download here for free.

QUESTION: Are there times when it is customary to be silent?

Answer: Yes, Abbot Isaac asks everyone to be silent walking from the church down to the dining room for all meals.

At meal times, please talk only after you take your food to your table.

The time before prayers in the church with the monks are also times of silence.

QUESTION: How do we pray with the monks?

Answer: Here is an explanation. The abbey will supply prayer booklets for the weekend. You may also find it handy to download the free divine office app used by the monks. iBreviary. You can find the app in your app store on your phone or tablet.

QUESTION: Will there be any other people with us on the fourth floor?

Answer: Typically not. However, sometimes if the guest house is full there may be other guests, but we seldom hear or see them.

QUESTION: If I lock myself out of my room, who do I call, and for security emergencies?

Answer: Call Brother Giovanni at 813-228-8015 for any retreat issues, such as being locked out of your room. The phone number will be on the floor plan you receive at check-in.

For security or law enforcement emergencies call University Campus Security at 352-588-8432 and 911 for the Pasco County Sheriff.

Put the phone numbers in your phone so you will have them handy.

Always keep your phone with you in case you get locked out of your room.



QUESTION: What if I lock my key and my phone in my room?

Answer: It is a good idea to always carry your phone and your key! But if you are stranded, call Brother Giovanni at 813-228-8015.

QUESTION: Is the abbey locked at night?

Answer: One door is left open for people who are out late.

QUESTION: Will we walk in a group or procession outside the abbey while we are on retreat?

Answer: No, all retreat activities are inside the abbey or the church which are built together. You will not need to go outside for anything all weekend. But there will be time for walking on your own if you want.

QUESTION: I asked for a single room, will I have to share one with someone else?

Answer: No.

QUESTION: How do I get to Saint Leo Abbey?


33601 State Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574-9700.

Park anywhere in large lot with US Post Office trailer on west side (Google maps shows post office incorrectly) You may unload your car by church: Abbey Ct. and Grove Street. Abbey has a large luggage cart.

From Tampa or Gainesville. Exit 285 on I-75. Go east on State Road 52, about 12 minutes. St. Leo Abbey is on the left. Drive past abbey to the main entrance of St. Leo University on the left. Turn left into St. Leo University, go around circle and follow the sign to abbey. Park in lot by abbey — Lot with US Post Office on west side.

From Lakeland. I-4 WEST to Exit 36 in Lakeland. Travel NORTH on Highway 98 until it merges with Highway 301. Turn right on 301. At first traffic light, Clinton Ave., turn left. Proceed until Clinton ends at Prospect St., turn right. Proceed to traffic light, turn left onto Hwy 52. St. Leo University is half mile on right. Turn right into St. Leo University, go around circle and follow the sign to abbey. Park in lot by abbey — the lot with the US Post Office tailer on west side.

QUESTION: My question was not answered, who should I call or email?

Answer: Send an email to or call Brother Giovanni 813-228-8015.

QUESTION: What music might help put my heart right for the retreat?

Veni, creator Spiritus

Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne, pray for us.

Adoro te devote for rest

Hildegard von Bingen - Hortus Deliciarum

We may yet return to the garden.

QUESTION: The one thing?

Answer: “My eyes shall be upon you and My ears open to your prayers; and before you call upon Me, I will say to you, 'Behold, here I am.”