Mennonite Students go to Benedictine Monastery to Sit in Silence

Last fall, TREK students participating in silent retreats at the Mennonite Brethren affiliated Mark Center were brought to a Benedictine Monastery in Mission B.C. called Westminster Abbey where they spent the afternoon practicing contemplative spirituality in silence. One participant wrote about the experience…

Silent Retreat

The Mark Centre was in a state of total silence this weekend as we all entered into a 48 hour silent retreat. It was like taking daily quiet time with God, except that instead of just quiet, it was in fact silent, and instead of committing only 20 minutes or so to meeting with God, it was 2880 minutes.

We were released from busyness, forced not to rush through.

Something incredible happens when we remove all the distractions from our life and just sit and be still. I discovered that in these times I don’t need to be devoted to getting answers, or coming to any conclusions, but all I need is to simply be still in the presence of God.

I think it was very wise of my leaders to put this into our training schedule. It was a great weekend, but it also made us experience the how important it will be to bring this practice of being still before God into our field assignments, and our day to day lives. There will surely be times this coming year that will be truly hectic, and in those times it will be more important than ever to surrender our to do lists, concerns, and time so that we can rest in God’s quiet and hear his voice.

Inside Westminster Abbey (see picture) – Since the Mark Centre can get crowded when everyone wants their own silent space, we spent an afternoon at this monastery in Mission BC.

Silent Retreat

This was written by a student who participated in a program called ACTION with MBMSI for 6 weeks followed by the TREK program, which he was on at the time of his blog post (dated Sept 26, 2010). See Welcome to TREK Training @

This student was sent on both of these trips by his MB church (Glencairn MB, Kitchener, ON). Do other Mennonite Brethren churches like Glencairn who send their youth to TREK know that they have been paying for them to be taught contemplative spirituality? Do they know they are being taught to sit in stillness at a Benedictine Monastery? Are Trekkers this fall going to be doing the same? Do churches, pastors, and parents care?


The fall 2011 TREK team began with a silent retreat at the Mark Centre, and a trek to the newly leased Mark Centre chalet at Pender Island. This is what happened:

The chalet at Pender Island (which is being leased by the Mark Centre) is a place of stillness. The chalet is roomy and spacious. The outdoors is lush and open. We had a good time. Everyday involved work duties. I was able to contribute to a circular labyrinth by collecting beautiful rocks from the beach. The idea behind the labyrinth is to be used as a prayer tool. As you go to the centre you listen to God; he prepares your heart and mind through this process. When you are leaving the centre of the labyrinth you pray for others. It takes about 5 minutes to navigate without praying. It was awesome to be apart of the construction of this prayer tool.

Mark’s Trek 2011 Adventure
Posted on October 17, 2011

To see why this is concerning, read here:

Mennonites and Prayer Labyrinths

Love or Leave the Labyrinth?

Mennonite Labyrinths

There’s more. Read what the TREK students are reading:

One tool I have been using is Steve and Evy Klassen’s book Your Ears Will Hear. It is a journal that helps guide an individual in becoming better at listening to God.
In the journal there are 64 different stories to inspire a person in how God speaks to people and then related questions to help in listening to God. For example a title of one of the stories is called Let Me Guide Your Heart with a personal story from Evy; the corresponding question is: “How is God guiding my heart”? The story helps ready your heart, sprit and mind to listen to God. There are 5 recurring themes in the book: listening to God through scripture, listening to God at work around us, listening to God through our hearts, listening to God in times of silence and solitude, and listening to God in community. I have found by using this book and taking time meditating in actively listening to God I am being transformed. I am constantly surprised, refreshed when I listen to God.

Being Transformed
Posted on April 4, 2012

To see why this is problematic, please read the following:

What Will Ears Hear in The Mark Centre’s New Book?


Do Christian Leaders Understand The Contemplative Prayer Movement?

Contemplative Prayer—A mystical prayer practice that leads one into the “silence” but in actuality leads away from God.




ECUMENISM … Where do you draw the line?

The “Evangelical” Seduction

Evangelicals and Catholics Together – Part 1
(parts 2 and 3 also at above link)


4 thoughts on “Mennonite Students go to Benedictine Monastery to Sit in Silence

  1. Pingback: The Mark Centre’s New Book « Menno-lite

  2. Pingback: Mennonite Missions TREK to the Labyrinth and the Silence « Menno-lite

  3. Pingback: Menno-lite Prayer in the New Year | Menno-lite

  4. Pingback: Mennonite-Catholic Collaboration | Menno-lite

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