Celebrating the Gifts of Creation– Seeing with New Eyes

An active guided holiday retreat on Lake Como, Italy

 11-15th September 2023

Church of the Ascension, Cadenabbia

Led by Revd. Margaret Marquardt


Why is the Church Community hosting a retreat?

Lake Como has always attracted visitors and the Church of the Ascension has welcomed them since the 1890s. Our 2018 retreat was attended by about 25 international guests and a number from our local community.  In 2023 we wish to offer this holiday retreat, as a chance to both gather in joy, hope and gratitude for the gifts of creation in these beautiful surroundings, and to reflect on how to protect and honour God’s creative work both here and elsewhere. 


Retreat theme – what can you expect?

In our time together - in prayer, reflection, liturgy and quiet time but also in groups, over meals, walking or sitting - we will have time to acknowledge the struggle to protect creation here on Lake Como, as well as to hear one another’s stories of the land and sea in our homes, where we are planted.  We will move around the lake and surrounding hills - on foot, by bus, boat and car - to see and hear about sustainable environmental practices on land and lake.  We will experience places and aspects of the traditional rural life and spirituality of Lake Como, and in each place lift up the work that is tending to the care of God’s creation. As we share together, we will ponder how to answer God’s call to treat our planet and each other in ways that honour this gift for all to share and to be there for all generations to come. And for sure there will be fun and laughter and many opportunities to form new bonds of friendship. This is not a sedentary programme but will involve walking, occasionally on steep and/or uneven paths.


Retreat leader

Reflections and liturgy will be offered by The Reverend Margaret Marquardt of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada and Priest at the Church of the Ascension.  She is also the Chairperson of her Diocesan Justice and Peace Unit and has an extensive background in environmental, social and justice issues.  She seeks to work collaboratively with all people of goodwill as we continue to join together in our world towards sustainable environmental practices. On this retreat she will offer guidance from Christian, indigenous and diverse voices that remind us to “walk softly on the earth” (indigenous poem, unknown author), believing that “our planet is a hospitable home giving us all we need to thrive and survive”.



Rather than a single accommodation centre, we are offering a choice between staying at small 3* hotels close to the church in Cadenabbia or staying on a B&B basis with community members (often shared bathroom).  In both cases, we cannot avoid adding a single supplement.  If you have local friends or wish to make your own arrangements including transport, a day package will be available.


What will it cost?

5-day programme, including all excursions and meals but without accommodation: €450

5-day programme, with accommodation: €795 IN 3* hotel, €695 in hosted accommodation (NB single supplement payable)

For more information or bookings email Jeannie Willan (jeanniewillan@gmail.com) or speak to Revd Margaret Marquardt.


Outline Programme (may change)

Monday: arrival, welcome gathering at church with tea.  Overview, short reflection/prayer/worship followed by shared meal.

Tuesday: Land: Visit a local market followed by a visit to Roveglio, an organic hill farm with restored olive groves, honey and cheese production.  Worship, lunch and reflection, group connecting and time to be in nature. Walk (ca. 1 hour) to exhibition of traditional handmade nativity scenes. Dinner with hosts/retreat leader.

Wednesday: Water: Meditation in church followed by guest speaker on Lake Como’s environmental challenges (water levels, climate change, pollution). Boat trip to island with early Christian sites for picnic lunch, followed by reflection and discussion. Returning to land, walk up to Madonna del Soccorso (World Heritage Site and early pilgrimage destination), followed by shared meal at its trattoria.

Thursday: Sustainable tourism and local life and economy.  Worship in church, followed by visit to Villa Carlotta (botanical garden and art villa, with talk on tourism and climate change), bus to a lakeside town for light lunch.  Opportunity to explore, visit a local lavender business, wander round.  For keen walkers, taxi after lunch to Val Sanagra for 2-3 hour hike.  Taxi for others later to join at an agriturismo with trout farm for shared evening meal.

Friday: Closing time together in church and liturgy and lunch



The closest airport is Milan Malpensa.  The closest railway station is Como San Giovanni.  Transport to and from these can be arranged at a cost.  A more detailed programme and confirmation of price will be available by end September 2022.

Comments from 2018 retreat:

“I came to the retreat after a particularly busy and stressful couple of weeks.  I leave comforted, energized and refreshed in body, mind and spirit, “going out in joy and led forth in peace”. It was an experience of total caring.”

“Wonderful experience, profound at times and really an eye opener to global Christianity and Anglicanism.  Really special and extremely enjoyable.  Beautiful balance of the spiritual with holiday.”