Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


Going on retreat

Is Minsteracres a Monastery?

No. Minsteracres was originally a seminary for trainee Passionist priests, but since the 1960s has been open to the public as an ecumenical retreat centre.

What does “community-based” retreat centre mean?

There is a resident community of priests, sisters and lay people, which means there is always someone on hand, unlike some other centres, which are only staffed during the working week. The community is a praying community and there is a constant rhythm of prayer in the house – our visitors are always welcome to join in.

Do you have to be Catholic/Christian to stay there?

No, we welcome people of all faiths and none who share our values.

Is it open to the public?

Yes, we actively encourage people to visit to chat about what we do here, and to walk in our grounds.

How can I get there without my own transport?

There are regular train and bus services to Riding Mill, from where, with advance notice, we can arrange for you to be collected.

Can I come on my own, or do I have to be part of a group?

We cater for both individuals and groups. It may be that you take part in a parish retreat, or you come alone for some quiet time, or both! View our retreat programme.

What is a retreat?

Making a retreat allows you space in a stressful world to step back from your daily routine, and gives you time to reflect and pray, alone or with others. It can help you to deepen your relationship with God, and for faith communities, it can help the group to listen to God together, find new ways forward and share hopes and visions for the future. In our video, recent retreatants talk about what going on retreat means for them.

Will I have to be silent?

No, silence is personal choice, although we do have some scheduled silent retreats.

Can I join in scheduled retreats?

Yes, there is no reason why not.

Can I devise my own individual retreat?

Yes, many choose this option. The community can help you to plan your time.

Can I bring a group for our own retreat using Minsteracres as the venue?

Yes, we welcome new groups. Look at what we have to offer.

Do I have to do a retreat at all, or can I just come and stay?

You are welcome to stay without taking part in any activity. Indeed many people like to come here to take a complete break from their busy lives. Some join the community for their meals, others choose solitude. It’s entirely up to you.

Do I have to stay overnight on a residential retreat?

It’s a residential retreat, so you would get more from the experience if you stay. However, you can come on a day basis.

Do you have disabled facilities?

We do have two ground floor rooms which have  disabled access (one has an adjoining carer’s room).

 Food, drink and diets

Do you cater for special diets?

So long as we have advance notice, our cooks can cater for most dietary requirements.

Can I bring my own food?

You can if you are staying in the Poustinia (which has a self catering option), or attending a retreat which specifies bringing a packed lunch (such as the quiet and the walking retreats).

Do you have a drinks licence?

Yes, we provide reasonably priced drinks from our own bar.

Can I bring my own drinks?

We would prefer not, and encourage people to confine drinking alcoholic drinks to the lounge areas so as not to disturb other guests.


Room hire and equipment

Can I rent rooms for meetings and events?

Yes, please call 01434 673248 or email or complete the form at the foot of this page.

Do you have audio/visual equipment I can use?

We have an overhead projector, multimedia projector and screens, a laptop and a loop system in the ballroom, chapel, lounge and library.

Do you charge for equipment hire?

We make a minimal charge to maintain the equipment.

Is there internet access?

We have free wifi, though the signal is patchy.


Payment and donations

We accept payment in cash, by cheque or PayPal.

Can I pay by card?

Payment by card is not yet available, but you can use your card to pay by PayPal.

Do you need a deposit?

There is a £20 deposit per person for weekend retreats. For all others it is 25% of the total.

Can I have a reduced rate?

We have a bursary fund, for which there is a formal application process.

Is it cheaper to share a room?

Very slightly (about £3).

Is there a surplus for single rooms?


Can I make a donation?

Yes, either via the website, or by filling out a gift aid form which you can collect from the office. 

Can I set up a regular payment by direct debit/standing order?

Direct debit is not available, but you can set up a standing order. Contact us for details of our account which you will need for your bank.



Can I work as a volunteer?

Yes, we are always looking for help in the dining room, estate and for weekend hospitality volunteers. Please contact the volunteer team for more information and an informal chat.

Do I need a DBS check?

Yes, you will need to undergo the new DBS check which replaces the CRB check.

Will I need training?

Yes, there will be some training depending on whether you plan to volunteer in the kitchen, garden or office. Mostly this is simply to help you find your way about, or to learn our systems, though some may be statutory, for example health and food safety hygiene.

Will I be reimbursed for my expenses?

Yes, we don’t expect you to be out of pocket as a result of helping us! You can collect a claim form from the admin office.


Keeping in touch

How can I keep up to date with your news?

Our website is updated regularly, and you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook too. We also produce a quarterly newsletter and you can subscribe to the electronic version by completing the form below.  Recent past issues: Autumn 2014 ¦ Summer 2014  ¦ Spring 2014

Subscribe to the Minsteracres newsletter


If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to call 01434 673 248 or email or complete the form below:


Please complete the form below whatever your enquiry may relate to and we will endeavour to respond to you as soon as we reasonably can. Thank you.
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