Tucked quietly off of a winding, tree-lined road in New Hartford is a white farmhouse that, thanks to four nuns and a handful of volunteers, has become a place where Catholics can go to find strength and renewal.
If you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably drive right passed Trinita Retreat Center – a Catholic mission that’s been a place of restitution since 1923. Even those who live nearby aren’t exactly sure what it is.
Trinita is a quaint place – besides the farmhouse, there’s a few rustic cabins, a lodge, a pool and play area for kids, and an outdoor grotto with the Stations of the Cross. Though the 100 acres or so are stunning, it’s what happens at the retreat center that makes it special. Its mission, the sisters explained, is to help Catholics become missionaries in the world.
In the front yard of the center is a tall wooden cross. The cross, Sr. Debrah Wilson said, is daily reminder of what Trinita is all about.
“Everything we do, the mission cross is at the center,” she said. “We’re always asking ourselves how we can promote Catholic ideals and promote every Catholic being a missionary.”
The sisters are happy to host groups who want to rent the facilities for various programs; they also offer their own retreats – like Confirmation and First Communion retreats. And, they’re happy to bring their programs to parishes if people aren’t able to make it to the New Hartford facility.
Rev. Timothy O’Brien of Immaculate Conception Parish in New Hartford, of which the sisters are members of, said he’s seen Trinita make an impact in the community.
“In the 10 years that I’ve been here I’ve seen a lot of families in the parish become involved with Trinita and become enriched as a result,” he said.
The sisters rely on volunteers and each year get people from all across the globe who dedicate their time to helping Trinita. The sisters belong to the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, which has missions across the map.
Since 1972 Trinita has hosted a Summer Family Life Development program, where inner-city families can stay for a week-long bible school and summer camp. Kids get kid time, adults get grown-up time and families get time to be together away form home.
Helping strengthen families is a goal that each of the sisters values. They host overnight family programs where kids and parents can “play together and pray together.” The sisters arrange for families to eat dinner together, with no mobile devices or TV, just conversation. When the sisters ring the bell, then and only then can the families leave the table. Their family programs include Advent Family Day, Mother-Daughter retreats, Grandparent’s Day events and other activities.
Sue Traub and her family have been coming to Trinita for years and she now works there as a volunteer. She said at Trinita, her family has “holy spirit” moments.
“As soon as I was old enough, I was volunteering here. It really is a second home to me,” her 19-year-old daughter Colleen said.
Over the years the sisters have seen many people come to Trinita over and over again, perhaps needing a dose of the simplicity that it offers. There’s something about log cabins, campfires and stillness that allows us to hear God a little clearer. Sr. Nancy Walsh said Trinita is like a second home to many of its visitors.
“I’ve heard people say that this is holy ground,” she said. “It’s like a home away from home, people feel comfortable here.”
And why wouldn’t they? Home cooked meals, the great outdoors and four nuns who are the epitome of loving-kindness. God is on the property, and before you know it you’ll find yourself talking to him and reflecting upon your spiritual journey.
On June 18 visit Trinita to partake in their Chili Cookoff, a tasting fundraiser. The event will be from 12 to 3 p.m. at the center, 595 Town Hill Road in New Hartford. Cost is $10 for adults, and $5 for children and teens.
This column is part of series I’m working about retreat centers in Connecticut. We’re fortunate to have lots of places like Trinita throughout the state, so check back for more profiles!
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