Walking in the Footsteps of Henri Nouwen

A Spiritual Formation Retreat - Cancelled



July 19-22, 2020 - Cancelled. 


In the 1970s, Henri Nouwen received special permission for a seven-month stay at the Abbey of the Genesee, in upstate N.Y., where he withdrew from the hectic and frenetic life of teaching and ministry, to enter into the monastic rhythms of the Trappists. On this three-day retreat, in the beautiful rolling countryside of upstate N.Y., we will walk in his footsteps and the paths of the monastic way of life in study, solitude, silence, and fixed hour prayer with the Psalms. 

In the writings and life of Henri Nouwen one can discover a threefold pattern, movement and rhythm: from solitude, to community, and into ministry. This reoccurring pathway is vital for the Christian life and is perhaps gleaned from the rhythms of the monastic way. On retreat, immersed in these daily rhythms, we will explore together the contours and depths of these practices and ask how we might order our daily lives around similar patterns, creating space for God to work. We will immerse ourselves in study of Nouwen’s writings, practice silence, and solitude, pray the hours with the Trappist brothers, as well as hear from some of the brothers who spent time with Henri Nouwen while he lived in community with them.


BJ Woodworth is the lead pastor of Open Door, a PC(USA) missional church community in Pittsburgh’s East End. He serves the church by providing missional leadership in worship, vision casting, strategy, organization, and teaching. He is a graduate of Westminster College and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He worked for the CCO doing campus ministry at Bellefield Presbyterian Church and the University of Pittsburgh from 1992-2003. BJ received a certificate in Spiritual Transformation from the Transforming Center in Wheaton, Ill. He is devoted to the monastic traditions and incorporates them into his spiritual practices, reading, and beer brewing. BJ has brought spiritual and organizational guidance and coaching to boards and organizations going through transition such as the Union Project, Garfield Community Farm, the New Church Development Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery, and the Open Door itself.


Required readings for this class as of March 2020 are posted below. Additional readings will be added soon. Please do your best to read the required books before your arrival. If you wish to be in the Spiritual Formation Certificate Program, you should prepare a one-page reflection paper for each required book; these will be collected the first evening of class. If you do not plan to seek the certificate but are taking the class for personal enrichment, the reflection papers are not required, but we strongly encourage you to read the texts to get as much as possible from the class time. 


Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Crown Publishing Group, 2019.

The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Image, 1981. 

The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Random House Publishing Group, 2003.



Registration Fee and Enrollment Limit

The cost per person is $375, and the retreat will be limited to 15 participants.

CEUS / Directions and Lodging / Flyers


2.0 CEUs. Request a certificate by e-mailing the Office of Continuing Education.

Directions and Lodging

Directions to and details about lodging at Genessee Abbey can be found on the Abbey's website.


Full-sheet handout.    Half-page handout.  Feel free to share either of these with colleagues or friends who may be interested in this retreat.


E-mail ConEd@pts.edu or call 412-924-1345.