Frequently Asked Questions
What is St. Mary's Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development?
St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development exists as a place where all are invited to respond to the invitation by God to “withdraw to a quiet place to pray” (Luke 5:16). Through quiet and simplicity, warm welcome and spiritual companionship, St. Mary’s Sewanee seeks to nurture the innate human capacity for relationship with God. Resting on 230 acres atop the Cumberland Plateau, St. Mary’s Sewanee provides a sacred space to groups and individuals for a wide variety of opportunities for spiritual growth. Individuals may come to one of our retreats or workshops or for a period of personal retreat. Faith communities and not-for-profit organizations may bring their own programs while St. Mary’s Sewanee provides hospitality.
What types of programs do you offer?
St. Mary’s Sewanee offers programs and retreats designed to support spiritual growth and to appeal to a variety of interests. Presenters have been carefully selected for their expertise in biblical, contemplative and practical spirituality. The roots of the Center are firm in the Episcopal tradition and its emphasis on openness and comprehensiveness. Though broad, many of our retreats, workshops and programs seek to address the practices of living in Christian contemplative tradition while rediscovering ourselves daily. Since 1997, St. Mary’s Sewanee has worked in partnership with Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., offering a wide range of Centering Prayer retreats. Our emphasis on silent prayer and other contemplative spiritual practices sets us apart from other conference and retreat centers.
The second Thursday of each month, we offer Lunch and Learn programs. Come at noon and hear someone speak on topics from his or her field of expertise. You can call ahead to order a box lunch or bring your own. We offer several other educational programs throughout the year, so check our website for new offerings.
Can my group book space at St. Mary’s Sewanee?
Yes. Each year, many churches, nonprofits and schools use our facilities to host their own retreats. We provide a comfortable space and home-cooked meals, while you organize the program. We host church gatherings, women’s groups, men’s groups, youth groups, nonprofit boards, cross-country teams, faith communities, meditation groups, quilting clubs, 12-step programs or any other organization needing a tranquil venue for rest and renewal.
What if I just need a place stay?
Not a problem. We host private retreats, as well as those who are visiting family and friends at the nearby University of the South campus. We can help you arrange spiritual direction, take part in a service at the nearby convent, or give you privacy during your stay.
I hear you are constructing a new building. When is it available?
Our new building is open!
Are there more construction plans?
Yes. Our next phase will be a new hospitality center with kitchen, dining room, meeting rooms, offices and wrap-around porch.
How do I get to St. Mary’s Sewanee?
Our physical address is 770 St. Mary’s Lane, Sewanee, TN 37375. We are located off I-24 at exit 134 Monteagle/Sewanee. When you exit the interstate, head toward Sewanee; you will go about three miles and the pass through the University of the South’s gates. Keep going straight another two miles. Once you go through the blinking light in “downtown” Sewanee, you will take your next left onto Sherwood Road/TN-56. Go about a mile and take your first right onto St. Mary’s Lane. When you come to a fork in the road, bear right and you will see St. Joseph’s Hall on your left. Keep going a few more feet to St. Mary’s Hall.