Cloisters on the Platte begins weekends of guided prayer
April 18, 2019
Gates are open and retreats are underway at Cloisters on the Platte, a retreat center built in woods and fields near Gretna as a gift to Catholics and all people of faith by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.
“It’s everything I envisioned and more,” Ricketts said. “God answered my prayers. We have the perfect place.”
The center began its weekly, three-night retreats July 19. Carved out of a scenic, 930-acre site in the Platte River Valley, the campus includes the retreat center, an 80-seat chapel modeled after St. Margaret Mary Church in Omaha, seven guest lodges with private bedrooms and bathrooms, and 14 Stations of the Cross sculptures that line a 2,500-foot walking path.
A lake separates the chapel and retreat center from the Stations of the Cross.
Ricketts said the spiritual fulfillment he experienced 20 years ago during a three-day retreat at the Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House in Minnesota inspired him to build Cloisters on the Platte. Ricketts said he envisions the retreat center serving the Christian community from eastern Nebraska and beyond for generations to come.
The facility will host 80 retreatants most weekends of the year, with retreats for men and women on different weekends. The retreats are based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises of prayer, silence, spiritual guidance and contemplative reading of Scripture. The center provides a quiet setting for spiritual and personal reflection, Ricketts said.
“We have enough land so each of the retreatants can have the opportunity to be off in a special place by themselves, either inside or outside,” he said. “I love it all. The oak forest was a natural place to put the Stations of the Cross and putting the facilities on top of the hill was a natural place.”
Jesuit retreat directors from across the country have been recruited to lead retreats on a rotating basis. Five additional people, including at least three priests, will be on site to assist with the retreats, which take place from Thursday evenings to Sunday afternoons.
“With any retreat, the director needs help with confessions, Masses, Benedictions and so forth,” Ricketts said. “A lot of people like to have personal spiritual direction, so we’ve got priests or people trained in personal spiritual direction for each weekend.”
Interest has been high. Nearly all retreats through July 2019 are full and there’s a waiting list of more than 3,500 people.
“For each weekend, we’ve got a list of people waiting to get in. If you do a retreat, you are guaranteed a spot the same week the following year,” Ricketts said. “If somebody can’t come back the next year or elects not to, somebody moves up from the waiting list and takes their spot.”
Most retreatants are from parishes in the Omaha archdiocese, Ricketts said, but the facility has received inquiries from as far away as Hong Kong, Singapore and London. The retreats are free, but donations are accepted.
A retreat sign-up link is published on the home page of the Cloisters on the Platte website, cloistersontheplatte.com.
DIRECTIONS TO CLOISTERS ON THE PLATTE
From Omaha, take Interstate 80 west to exit 432. Drive south five miles on Highway 31 to Fishery Road. Turn right on Fishery Road and proceed a quarter mile to Cloisters on the Platte main gate on the right.