When we think of getting away during this season, we might imagine a hotel staycation, a cruise to nowhere or perhaps even glamping in Jewel.
But what about escaping to quieter alternatives with fewer distractions?
To make it more convenient for you, we’ve rounded up options for spiritual retreat centres and nature parks, depending on your time, budget and preferred location. Many of these centres are run by Catholic organisations and are often used by church groups of all denominations.
This list of serene spots across Singapore will not only allow you to retreat from the buzz of daily life, but also help you to slow down and find pleasure in simplicity as you connect with God!
FOR EXTENDED TIME OF REFLECTION
Lifesprings Canossian Spirituality Centre
Perched on a hilltop facing Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Lifesprings is an ideal location for a refreshing spiritual getaway with its array of facilities.
You won’t be able to miss the outdoor labyrinth, which is used as a sacred space for walking meditations. You’ll also find hammocks and benches scattered throughout the compound, a koi pond and rooms conducive for personal worship.
A ministry of the Canossian Sisters, Lifesprings’ cosy retreat programmes aim to provide support and companionship through its team of spiritual directors who are ready to help with guided sessions if you wish.
A single-day course can cost $70, including meals. Stay-in retreats are also possible, but do expect no-frills accommodation.
San Damiano Spirituality Centre
A 20-minute walk from Lifesprings is San Damiano. Hidden away within the grounds of Church of St Mary of the Angels, this oasis of calm sits right across the road from Bukit Batok Nature Park.
Inspired by St Francis of Assisi who embraced simplicity while loving Christ and living the gospel, the centre offers different kinds of cosy retreats so that those seeking spiritual nourishment can experience God and be transformed.
A preached group retreat focuses on a particular Franciscan theme, and involves group sharing and communal prayer sessions, while an individually guided retreat is more free and easy, apart from daily sessions with an assigned spiritual director who can help you to discern God’s message to you.
Praisehaven Retreat Centre
It’s probably more known as the place where people donate pre-loved items, but did you know that The Salvation Army also has a retreat centre?
A popular choice for youth camps and retreats, Praisehaven offers a diverse range of rooms and spaces for group or individual retreats, including apartments. It also has facilities like a kitchenette, an auditorium and a chapel.
You can easily walk over from Hillview MRT Station, while Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a stone’s throw away.
Want a quiet retreat with the Lord nearer to the heart of town?
Situated close to Botanic Gardens and located behind Church of St Ignatius, Kingsmead has 30 single bedrooms with basic amenities, not to mention a peaceful garden and a chapel.
An individual guided retreat can cost up to $80 a day for an air-conditioned room with meals provided, and you can also request for a spiritual director who can help guide you during the course of your retreat.
Kingsmead also offers group retreats, counselling services and spiritual direction sessions.
FMM House of Prayer & Formation
Another option that lies a 10-minute walk from Botanic Gardens is the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) House of Prayer & Formation.
Led by a group of women, FMM was founded by Mary of the Passion, who was inspired by the spirit of St Francis of Assisi.
The simply furnished space is suitable for private prayer or retreats. You can opt to stay overnight in one of its seven single air-conditioned rooms for $60 with meals included, or in their shared dormitory at $15 for adults and $13 for students.
Aside from outdoor facilities such as a contemplation hut and labyrinth walk, FMM also has conference rooms, a canteen and a kitchenette.
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary House of Prayer & Formation is located at 49 Holland Road, Singapore 258849. For more details, call +65 6474 2526 or email [email protected]
The Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel have their roots in the mission of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, who established charitable schools for needy children. Today, the centre continues to be inspired by their founder’s central focus on God alone, drawing people into greater commitment to Christ.
Located behind Assumption English School and St Joseph’s Church, Montfort offers package deals for groups, which includes access to various facilities like the conference room, chapel and prayer labyrinth.
Individuals can choose to book a room for the day from $50, or overnight for $100 with meals included. The friendly staff are also available to work out special requests and arrangements that you may need.
Community for Spiritual Formation
A resource and learning community that aims to come alongside Christians to encourage them to grow in Christlikeness, CSF organises day retreats like an upcoming Epiphany Retreat on 8 January 2021 at $100, as well as a variety of enriching spiritual formation courses.
Overnight retreats are held at other locations such as Lifesprings Canossian Spirituality Centre.
CSF also regularly holds midday prayers at noon, where people come together for an hour to sit quietly with the Lord. Due to COVID-19, this has now shifted online, although this takes a blended format on the days when CSF’s physical space is open.
Located 10 minutes’ walk from Serangoon MRT station, the entrance to CSF is through Bethel Presbyterian Church.
FOR SHORT BREAKS
Apart from retreat centres, you can also check out these nature spots around Singapore if you’re looking for a few hours of secluded devotion time.
These are the perfect places to surround yourself with God’s creation and steal away from hectic schedules.
Upper Seletar Reservoir Park
If you’ve seen the famous “lone tree” photo floating around social media, you can get your own here while taking time out to sit with God.
Benches line the reservoir along an open grassy field, making for a breezy spot to read and reflect on His Word.
Besides the tree, the park is also famous for its rocket-shaped tower. After you’ve tried out one of the park’s many trails, climb up to the top of the tower for scenic views.
For more details on Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, visit this page.
Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Even though it is located in the heartlands, this urban park has lots of benches and picnic spots strewn across its lawns, providing the perfect place for a quick getaway with God if you’re in the vicinity.
Some sights to catch include the meandering river, wildflowers and the more than 30 species of butterflies that can be found here.
You can also check out what’s happening at the amphitheatre-like space called the Riverside Gallery, and end the day with a meal at McDonald’s or one of the other dining outlets.
For more details on Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, visit this page.
Jurong Lake Gardens
This beautifully landscaped garden on the west side of Singapore is not only a serene place to take a jog, but also a good spot for quiet time with the Lord.
Take a walk along the field of tall grasses, lie back on one of the hammocks by the playground, or pick out a deck chair facing Jurong Lake.
The deck chairs are nicely spaced out, and make for a really cosy and private space to read your devotional. You might even see the resident otters frolicking in the water!
The easiest way to access these chairs is to come from the entrance near Lakeside MRT, following the boardwalk along Jurong Lake.
For more details on Jurong Lake Gardens, visit this page.
Pasir Ris Park
East-siders may flock to East Coast Park, but Pasir Ris Park offers a more tranquil spot for quality time with God.
You’ll get the same beach vibe as East Coast sans the massive crowd. Rent a bicycle to explore, or take a stroll along the boardwalk while you admire the beauty of God’s creation around you!
Nature lovers will also love the bird-watching tower and mangrove forest.
For more details on Pasir Ris Park, visit this page.
Wherever you choose to go, remember to take time to reflect, recharge and realign ourselves with the Father.
As 2020 comes to a close, that may just be the life-changing rest you need!
- What are your preferred ways for connecting with God?
- Have you taken time out to listen to what God might be speaking to you about this season?
- How is your spirit doing? Are you in need of refreshment from the Lord?