This year’s OPW Women’s Retreat will be May 1 – 3, 2020
Registration is OPEN. Click to download the form.

     Want to find out more about this faith-building, church-changing spirit-filled weekend!?

We hope this page answers the most common questions you might have about the retreat, but please feel free to reach out to us if you can’t find the information you are looking for! For questions regarding registration or payment, contact Ali Verbanas via e-mail at or at 484-343-5889 (Please give your name if you are texting). This page will be updated as more details become available. You can also find out more about the venue at

What's this 'retreat' thing all about?
The retreat at Oxford Presbyterian Church is made possible in part by the financial support of Oxford Presbyterian Women. Look forward to a weekend filled with relaxation, fun, and most importantly, time spent in God’s presence. Experience His handiwork as acquaintances become friends, and as we move towards a deeper understanding of one another, and of our relationship with God.

Activities are conducted in a casual, pressure-free environment. Activities may include large group learning sessions, small group sharing, worship and fellowship. Other popular activities in years past have included silent auctions and sock auctions, crafts, massages, and guided meditation, as well as nature walks. ALL sessions and activities are optional. This is YOUR retreat, and you should feel free to share or participate as much or as little as you feel led to do so. We recognize that it is sometimes in peace and solitude that we find our closest commune with God, and it is our greatest wish that you leave this weekend feeling refreshed and fulfilled.

Who can come to the retreat?
ALL women of Oxford Presbyterian Church and their adult female friends and family are invited to attend the retreat. The ages of our participants have ranged from 18 to 98! Women who attend church regularly, or those who rarely or never attend, are ALL welcome! This is a judgment-free experience. The diversity of age, experience, and interests is priceless to our fellowship!

We encourage you to bring a friend, neighbor, sister, mother, daughter, aunt, grandmother, whomever… but feel free to register on your own! This has become a yearly tradition for many of our participants. Overnight occupancy is based on two to a room, and you can designate your roommate preferences (if you have any) on your registration form.

Where will the retreat be held?

We will be gathering at St. Mary of Providence Retreat Center.

St. Mary’s is located between Honeybrook and Elverson, PA. It is about a 45-50 minute drive from Oxford. If you prefer to sleep at home, commuting is an option, and you can attend all of the weekend’s activities as a commuter, or just Saturday’s activities.

From Oxford, head north on RT 10 and continue past RT 30 (RT 10 becomes “N. Orctorara Trl after 30). Continue on RT 10, when you come to 340, look for Compass RD, and you will make a Right to stay on 10.  Continue on 10/Compass Rd to Walnut St, turn Right onto Walnut ST.  In a short distance 0.5 mi, turn Right onto Horseshoe Pike.  In 0.2 mi turn Left onto Suplee Rd.  Go 3.4 mi, turn Left onto Chestnut Tree Rd.  Go 0.6 mi, turn Right on ISABELLA Rd.  In 1.0 mi you will reach St. Mary’s of Providence Center, 227 Isabella Rd.

There are 3 entrances.  The first entrance will take you up the “S” driveway in front of the mansion, and veer you around the back of the mansion to the “Dalton House” where we will be staying.  The second driveway will take you to the main parking lot, just a short walk to the Dalton House.  There is also a second parking lot behind the Dalton House, limited spots in this area, as there is senior housing on the property.  PLEASE, no parking in numbered spots!! The third entrance will take you in the back, up to the Dalton House.  We will have signs to direct you at all entrances.

St. Mary of Providence Center
227 Isabella Road
Elverson, PA 19520

Read more about the venue at

How much does it cost?
Rates for the 2019 OPW retreat are as follows:

Overnight Retreat option includes:
2 nights lodging in a double-occupancy room with private bath
5 meals (3 meals Saturday/2 meals Sunday)
All retreat materials
Access to all open facility amenities
Cost: $155 for double occupancy or $185 for single occupancy

Weekend Commuter option includes:
5 meals (3 meals Saturday/2 meals Sunday)
All retreat materials
Access to all open facility amenities
Cost: $70

Saturday-Only Commuter option includes:
3 meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner on Saturday)
All retreat materials
Saturday access to all open facility amenities
Cost: $40

Registration is OPEN for 2020.

As years go by and our numbers increase, it has become necessary for us to move to larger facilities in order to accommodate our growing group. This is both a blessing and a curse, since these types of operations are more costly because they offer more amenities and options. We’ve come a long way since the humble house on the hill at the convent. We are truly blessed that our numbers grow each year and we pray that continues! We have spent a great deal of time and prayer seeking the best balance to meet our needs, while keeping costs as low as we possibly can. Confidential financial aid is available for those for whom the cost is prohibitive. See the scholarship information below.

What does the fee include?

Your fee includes all retreat materials, lodging (if applicable) and all-you-can-eat buffet meals for the time during which you are registered.  (The dining room staff is happy to provide food for special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan. If you have special dietary needs, please contact Ali at 484-343-5889 as soon as possible.)

Rates are based on double-occupancy. Most rooms are the same, with 2 handicap rooms/3 bathrooms available.  Each room has 2 beds, private bathroom, and individual AC control.

The break room, common area and conference room of the Dalton House are open for use 24/7.  This area sleeps 60.  In the event we have more than 60 overnighters, the mansion can fit another 40 or so.

  • Access to many other activities on campus (outlined below in the “what else is there to do” section)

What if I have special dietary needs?

The chefs understand that some guests have health issues that cause various dietary restrictions. In order for them to meet your needs, you can notify Ali Verbanas of your food allergy or dietary restriction (example: gluten free, allergy to nuts, low sodium, etc.). Email Ali at, or call 484-343-5889.  She will pass along this important information.

If your request requires specialty foods that cannot be found in most local grocery stores, please bring these foods along with you. We have a kitchen/break room with a refrigerator to store items in the Dalton House.

The culinary team will always do their best to service your dietary needs.

Are scholarships available?

Kathy at the 2009 retreat

YES! The Kathy Stullken Memorial Retreat Scholarship Fund was established to help subsidize registration fees for women who would not otherwise be able to attend the retreat. If you feel that the cost of attending the retreat would create a financial hardship for you, we want to help! Funds are available to assist you with all or a portion of the fee, and all requests are kept completely confidential. Please designate this on your registration form.

Kathy wrapped in her prayer shawl at the 2013 retreat.

Katherine Baird Stullken was a member of Oxford Presbyterian Church for many years. She conceived of and organized our first women’s retreat back in 2006, while in the midst of a personal battle with breast cancer. She won that battle, but the cancer returned.

We lost Kathy on February 4, 2014, just weeks before we were scheduled to gather for our ninth retreat. The retreat that year was in many ways a time of mourning, but also a time of healing, as we recalled Kathy’s quick wit and good-natured cheeky comebacks. We laughed together and cried together, reflecting on the ways that Kathy had touched our lives, not the least of which was the gift of bringing us all together for that first retreat in 2006. The recognition of the profound impact that these retreats have had on us inspired us to create this scholarship in her honor. We could think of no more fitting memorial than to share this gift of fellowship with other women.

Scholarships are funded from proceeds of the sock auction held each year at the retreat, and also by donations from retreat participants and church members who wish to honor Kathy’s memory in a very tangible and meaningful way. If you would like to contribute to this fund and help someone attend the retreat, please note in the appropriate space on your registration form.

What will our schedule be like?
The 2020 preliminary schedule is posted below, but is subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, or ideas brought to us by YOU!

4:00 Check-in begins at Dalton House
5:30 – 6:30 Welcome reception Dalton House

7:30 Check-in begins for Saturday commuters
8:00  Breakfast
12:00 Lunch
5:30 Dinner

8:00 Breakfast
12:00 Lunch

What should I bring to the retreat?

In addition to comfortable clothing and toiletry items, here are a few other suggestions:

  • Bible
  • Journal or notebook
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sketchbook and/or other art supplies for your free time
  • Yoga mat for guided meditation? TBD
  • Bathing Suit/Towel for the pool (There is a $4 fee for use of pool. Hours will be given prior to retreat, lifeguard on duty)
  • Outdoor wear and hiking or walking shoes for your free time
  • Umbrella
  • Checkbook
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Board games, playing cards and/or puzzles
  • One pair of fun or unique socks for the sock auction
  • Suggestions/information about possible beneficiaries of the auction proceeds AND completed beneficiary form

Be sure to check out the sections below about other activities. There may be other items you’ll want to add to your list! 

Do I have to do all the activities on the schedule?

Absolutely not! We want the retreat to be a pressure-free environment. ALL sessions and activities are optional. This is YOUR retreat, and you should feel free to share or participate as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. You may spend your time however you like during your weekend at St. Mary’s of Providence. If you look at the schedule and there is something going on, but you really feel like a nap would be divine … well, sweet dreams! If you just need some time alone, take it! We recognize that it is sometimes in peace and solitude that we find our closest commune with God, and we also know that life as a caregiver or a mom of toddlers can be exhausting. So, it is our greatest wish that you leave this weekend feeling refreshed and refilled.

The only non-negotiable items on the schedule are the meal times, since there is one seating in the dining room. Other than that, you may come and go as you like.

Besides the retreat program, what else is there to do at St. Mary of Providence?

St. Mary’s seeks to create an environment that offers rest, relaxation and recreation for their guests. Because people relax and recreate in a variety of ways, they have a number of activity options for groups to use and enjoy.

Activities always available:

Prayer Sitting Room—offers a quiet place to come and pray. It is located in the Mansion, and the morning light reflects beautifully off the stained glass windows. The prayer room is open 24 hours and is located on the first floor, on the dining side of the mansion.

Top left prayer sitting room, top right Immaculata apts, bottom outdoor stations of the cross/resurrection chapel

Outdoor Stations of the Cross/Resurrection Chapel- Another place for prayer and reflection, the outdoor stations lead to the resurrection chapel.  A peaceful place just a short walk from Dalton House, near the parking lot.

Bookstore—More than just books! You will walk through the small store to get into the dining hall.  The store is not staffed and anything purchased is by the honor system, so cash and checks only for purchases.

Basketball—Outdoor court, available during daylight hours.

top, outdoor covered sitting area off of mansion, bottom left, historic ballroom, bottom right, pool.

Chapel- The main chapel is located across from the Dalton House.

Activities with specific hours:

Swimming Pool—St. Mary’s has an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool for use all year. There are lap swimming hours and open hours. There must be a lifeguard on duty to swim. Swim fee is $4.

The standard pool hours for will be*:
Saturday lap swim 8-11 pm, open 12-3
Sunday lap 12-2 pm

*Hours subject to change as a lifeguard must be on duty during open hours, there are locker rooms in the pool building.

Did someone really pay $100 for a pair of socks?!?

Yes, and maybe even more! Many of us remember sitting in the sock auction during our first retreat and maybe feeling a little confused by the intensity with which some of the women bid on a pair of cat or unicorn socks. But by the end, it all made sense. Each year we retreat participants discuss and vote on beneficiaries to receive the proceeds from our sock auction. A portion of the proceeds is kept back for the retreat scholarship fund, and the remainder goes to the selected cause. So the bidding isn’t really for socks. Depending on the selected cause, the amount of your donation that exceeds the actual value of the socks will very likely be tax deductible. Many women plan ahead to bid at the sock auction as part of their normal charitable contributions for the year. But, you do not have to bring socks or bid at all if you’d rather just sit back and watch the silliness unfold. Warning: you may spend the rest of the day with sore sides or numb cheeks from laughing so hard!

If you would like to nominate someone to be this year’s beneficiary, please fill out this form and bring with you to the retreat. 

On the Sunday following the retreat, the women who attended will wear their socks and get up as a group in front of the congregation to give a brief report on the retreat, including the amount of money that the auction raised, and where the money is going. The congregation always looks forward to sharing in the joy of this “sock parade” and hearing about the weekend.

How did the retreat get started?
The first OPW retreat was held in 2006 at Mariawald Retreat Center in Shillington, Pennsylvania. OPC member Kathy Stullken had attended retreats there with her previous church and organized our first women’s retreat, despite waging a personal battle with breast cancer at the time. That first retreat was attended by 17 women, and we returned to Mariawald for the next eight years until they had unexpected major construction and we were forced to find a new location for our 10th year.

Our 2015 retreat was held at McShain-Horstmann Family Life Center at Malvern Retreat House. This facility allowed us to accommodate more women, but we soon learned that March weekends had standing reservations for years into the future. So, in 2016, we moved to nearby Sandy Cove Conference Center which allowed us to accommodate the varied needs of all our retreat participants. The 2016 retreat was attended by nearly 50 women!

In 2019 we again moved locations to St. Mary’s of Providence Center.  This location provided the best of all the previous locations — the privacy of our own building, close location for commuters, and a beautiful property to enhance our spiritual journey for the weekend.

Actual quotes from past participants
“I formed such strong bonds during the retreat, and now when I see those women in church, I feel like those bonds between us make our church stronger, too!”
“I felt safe to share my true thoughts and feelings, confident they would be kept in the sanctity of our retreat circle.”
“I had seen her in church before, but I had never taken the opportunity to have a real conversation with her. I never dreamed she was so funny! Now I can’t wait to get to know her better!”

Overnight registration closes April 15, 2020

Don’t miss out!

Download the registration form HERE!