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Journeying with God: A Holiday Retreat on Lake Como, Italy at the Church of the Ascension, Cadenabbia, October 11-16, 2020

Journeying with God, a guided holiday retreat at Church of the Ascension on Lake Caomo, Italy, will take place October 11-16 and is now accepeting regirations. The lakeside church serves a large community of summer visitors and a small community of full-time residents and holiday home-owners. Although part of the Church of England, Church of the Ascension attracts attendees from all over the world. The priest and retreat leader, the Rev. Roger Williams, is from Australia.

Why are we hosting a retreat?

Lake Como is a beautiful setting and we wanted to share with visitors some of its hidden gems, which have inspired pilgrimage and reflection for centuries. Our recent 125th anniversary prompted us to look to the future and the need to both raise funds to conserve our beautiful building and to build our community. We ran our first retreat in 2018 and welcomed some 30 guests from all over the world for a wonderful week. We hope the 2020 retreat will provide visitors and church members alike another chance to be still and reflect about our lives in these very special surroundings.

Theme and Retreat leader: Bishop Michael Colclough

Journeying with God, recalls the sixth century Irish monk St. Brendan’s plea, “Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.” Bishop Michael was ordained in 1971 to serve in his home city of Stoke-on-Trent. In 1975 he moved to London where he served in a variety of parishes as Curate, Vicar and Team Rector. He was appointed Archdeacon in 1992 and Bishop of Kensington in 1996; in 2008 he was invited to become Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral. His ministry has always emphasized the importance of pastoral care and spiritual direction: accompanying people on their walk with God. This widened into conducting retreats and leading pilgrimages. On retirement he was appointed an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Dioceses of London and Europe and Bishop in Residence at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge. He is Chaplain to the Worshipful Company of Mercers in the City of London. His wife Cynthia will join the retreat.


A number of rooms with half-board, have been reserved at the lakeside 4-star Grand Hotel Cadenabbia. If you have local friends or wish to make your own arrangements, you may join as a day visitor. The last two nights will be spent at Piona Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian Monastery with its own guest house (simple rooms but with en-suite facilities) in a tranquil and panoramic setting. Lunches are also included.

Draft Schedule (minor alterations may occur)

There will be daily morning prayer or communion (usually in church) and nighttime prayers at the hotel. There will be optional daily yoga early every evening, with Mina Weight, a community member and qualified yoga teacher. Further details are available upon request.

Day 1 (Sunday). Welcome tea at Church of the Ascension (4:00-5:00 p.m.) followed by opening worship and first address. Welcome drinks and dinner at Grand Hotel Cadenabbia.

Day 2 (Monday). Morning worship and second address at church followed by 1st session. After lunch, a free afternoon (a chance to visit Bellagio or Villa Carlotta). Community members will lead a local walk up to the chapel of San Martino. Evening prayers after dinner at Grand Hotel Cadenabbia.

Day 3 (Tuesday). Travel by bus or boat to Lenno , with a chance to visit Villa Balbienello or the weekly market before walking/driving up to Roveglio (home of a parishioner) for home communion, lunch and second session Return to Cadenabbia (optional walk to nearby Madonna del Soccorso pilgrimage site with later return). Optional Christian meditation in church. Evening prayers after dinner at the hotel.

Day 4 (Wednesday). Check out of accommodation. Morning prayer in church followed by leisure (chance to visit historic Villa Carlotta) before midday ferry to Piona Abbey (a picnic lunch will be provided for the boat). After time to settle in and explore, worship and 3rd session in the retreat centre. Vespers with monks (Italian). Dinner followed by evening prayer.

Day 5 (Thursday). Morning worship and fourth session. Free afternoon. Activities to be confirmed.

Day 6 (Friday). Departure. Breakfast followed by closing session and Eucharist before light lunch. Either direct travel to the airport, to Milan or back to Cadenabbia by boat, depending on individual travel arrangements.

Costs & Travel Notes

The retreat can be booked in one of the following ways:

a) As a complete package including accommodations (dinner, bed and breakfast at Grand Hotel Cadenabbia, with two nights at Piona) as well as excursions, simple lunches and sessions/materials, or

b) As a day visitor (excursions, lunches and sessions/materials as well as the 2-day stay at Piona abbey with meals there) for those who live or have friends on the lake.

Please note: Surcharge for single occupancy will be 135 euros. Lake view at GHC is 90 euros/room

  • Complete package: 895 euros (Deposit 250 euros)
  • Day Visitor: 450 euros (Deposit 150 euros)

Please make your own travel arrangements and let us know the details. The closest airport is Milan Malpensa. We will try to assist with arranging transfers at a cost of 50 euros each way. Please ensure that you are covered by normal travel insurance.

How to Register

E-mail Jeannie Willan ( stating how many places you are booking, whether you want shared accommodation or single occupancy at Grand Hotel Cadenabbia, or whether you are registering as a day visitor. If the latter, please state where you will be staying. She will provide further instructions about how to transfer the payment of deposits, together with a registration form. A booking confirmation will be sent. Full payment of the balance will be due by July 31, 2020.

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