10-16 June 2024

A retreat for men at the Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, England.

The Monastery of St John the Baptist is a Stavropegic Eastern Orthodox Monastery founded in 1959 by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), who was a disciple of St Silouan the Athonite. He reposed on 11 July 1993. In 2019, Fr Sophrony’s sanctity was acknowledged by the Church and he was added to the ranks of Orthodox Saints. His Feast Day is the day of his repose.

The monastery is situated near Tolleshunt Knights in Essex in the United Kingdom, about two hours northeast of London. 

Today the Monastery is under the guidance of the Abbot, Fr Peter, and the spiritual fatherhood of Elder Zacharias (Zacharou), a close disciple of St Sophrony.

The monastery welcomes many pilgrims from all over the world, and there is opportunity to talk and interact with the many monks or nuns living there. Visitors to the monastery also assist the monks and nuns with the daily tasks of the monastery, gardening, and other work alongside them, and get to know them and their way of life. 

The Monastery daily program follows a general pattern:

  • Divine liturgy or morning prayers start 6 or 7am, followed by breakfast
  • Lunch is served at 1pm
  • Shared work from 2.30pm
  • Afternoon tea at 4pm
  • Evening prayers are at 5.30pm, followed by dinner

This daily rhythm allows for space and time to reflect, and to drink and be nourished by the life of the monastery. As a group, we will organise additional activities during the week:

  • Service in the honor of St Sophrony, in his crypt on the monastery grounds 
  • A Friday evening/Saturday morning retreat with local Orthodox Christian men from the All Saints Orthodox Church in nearby Basildon.
  • Day trip visits to nearby ancient Christian sites, for example,
    • Cathedral of St. Alban, built on the site of the beheading of St. Alban, England’s first saint and the location of his relics.
    • Waltham Abbey, built by King Harold II in 1050, once housed the Miracle Working Cross, and also the site of his burial after his death at the Battle of Hastings. 
    • St. Andrew’s Church, Greensted, the world’s oldest wooden church in existence and a place of Christian worship for nearly 1200 years.
    • Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall, which is one of the oldest Christian churches in England still in use, dating to 654 A.D.

Practical details: All participants must organize their own transport to London. We will organize pickups and drop-offs by car from connection points in Essex, but final travel to and from the airport will be at participants’ own expense.

Expense: 500 USD per participant. 
Including: Trip planning and organization, ground transportation during stay and day trips, weekend retreat in Basildon. Full board and lodging provided by the monastery (so most of your fee will be a donation to the Monastery).

Additional expenses – Transport to agreed on pickup point, extra food and drinks on day trips, anything you want to buy in the highly recommended bookshop at the monastery bookshop.

Limited space for 8 participants only!

7th – 10th June – Optional early arrival and hike in Snowdonia, Wales (details pending).
10th – 16th June – Arrival and stay at Monastery of St John the Baptist.
14th June evening – opening of retreat at Basildon parish.
15th June – conclusion of retreat. Vigil at the monastery.
16th June – Divine Liturgy and departure.

Please contact Fr Michael (Avg2Alpha@gmail.com) or Paul Robson (paul@maniphesto.com) asap for additional information and to secure your place.