Desert Fathers, Desert Mothers

October 20-22, 2017 | Cost: $185

“O that I had wings like a bird, I would fly away to the desert… and be at rest.” (Psalms 55)

Why did people head off into the deserts of Egypt, Syria and Palestine during the 4th-6th centuries, and beyond? Who were some of these characters? This mostly quiet retreat will consist of several short presentations describing historical and spiritual looks at this phenomenon, some of the main characters, the Wisdom sayings of some of the fathers, and conclude with the desert influence through the ages to the present time.

This retreat will begin with Friday evening check-in starting at 5:30 p.m. followed by the evening meal at 6:30 p.m. It will conclude with the noon meal on Sunday.


5:30-6:30 p.m. – Check-in
6:30 p.m. – Supper
7:30 p.m. – Session I: Introduction, early history, types, locations, ending with several minutes of silent centering prayer.

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Session II (Prominent Desert Fathers): Anthony the Great, Pachomius, Macarius, Moses the Black
11:00 a.m. – Mass
12:00 p.m. – Lunch
3:00 p.m. – Session III (“Harlots of the Desert”/Desert Mothers): Mary of Egypt, Zossima, Palagia, Nonnus, Thais, Paphnutius, Maria, Abraham
5:00 p.m. – Evening Prayer
5:30 p.m. – Supper
6:30 p.m. – Movie, “The Way”

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Session IV (Influences through the centuries, 20th century and today): Monasticism, Benedictines, Carthusians, Calmodese, Charles de Foucauld, Carlo Carretto, Thomas Merton
11:00 a.m. – Mass
12:00 p.m. Lunch and Departure

Presented by Father Jim Bartelme. Fr. Jim is a native of Wausau, St. Anne Parish and School, and Newman H.S. grad. He earned a BS in history and education from UWSP. Later, he received an MA in Reading Education, but decided to enter the seminary. He was ordained in June 1982 for the Diocese of Pueblo, CO. After seven years, he transferred to the Diocese of Superior, from which he retired from “active ministry” in 2016. He lives in Wausau and still enjoys reading history, mostly American West, but also other topics. He works part-time at the Woodson Art Museum as a gallery attendant.