The Center at Mariandale: A Spiritual Oasis on The HudsonAug 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Erin Lehn
The Center at Mariandale is a spiritual retreat center in Ossining, New York, and a source of peaceful contemplation. The Center, founded by the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor in 1976, is a sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Hope. The Sisters’ mission and values of care for the Earth, social justice and service to others serve as the Center’s foundation.
Located on 61 acres of pristine woods and meadows with captivating views of the Hudson River and valley, it’s an ideal setting for myriad public and private day and overnight retreats and programs. According to Mariandale’s Marketing Strategist Jane Hanley, Mariandale has a variety of event offerings in the areas of spirituality, the arts, writing, eco-spirituality, social justice and self-exploration. “Many people enjoy coming to the retreat center for private retreats, where they can unplug and spend a few days in a private guest room with all meals provided, and acres of meadow and trails to explore above the Hudson River,” she says. Mariandale also features celebrated speakers on topics such as racism and environmental preservation on special event days.
“One of the Dominican Sisters of Hope’s primary values is care for the planet, and we treat the land at Mariandale as a microcosm of the Earth. Gardening, growing food, and providing food for the needy at area food pantries is one way that we steward the land,” explains Hanley. “Other ways include allowing a vibrant ecosystem to flourish by leaving the land and its wildlife to exist without poisons or pesticides, and allowing meadows to grow with little or no lawn cutting. This benefits the pollinators, plant life, the wildlife, and the ecosystem.”
In addition to the beautiful natural acreage, the land also features a pool and picnic grounds, a labyrinth, a healing hut, and the Hope Community Gardens. The main building offers a dining area, meeting rooms, chapel, and guest lodging.
As for accommodations, the Center at Mariandale offers 44 comfortable, private guest rooms on the second and third floors, with elevator access. Each of the rooms features a twin bed, sink and mirror, a large reading chair, a desk, and individually controlled air conditioning and heating units. In addition, dormitory-style shared bathrooms are located on each floor. Many of the guest rooms also have river views of the Hudson and the grounds.
Retreat attendees take delight in the healthy, nutritious, buffet-style meals prepared by professionally trained chefs onsite. “Many of the vegetables we serve are grown in our own gardens,” notes Hanley. “Fruits, meat, and other food and beverages are often sourced locally, from the Hudson Valley.” All meals include an entrée, beverages, coffee or tea, and dessert. Guests can choose to eat in the comfortable, communal dining room or take their meals outside to Mariandale’s courtyard. Carolyn Coogan, Assistant to Natural Awakenings’ Publisher Dana Boulanger, recently spent four days at Mariandale taking a private, summer retreat and she attests to the delectable meals being a major highlight during her stay. Coogan also shared that there are several available snacks and beverages such as tea, coffee and lemon water available all the time, even in between mealtimes.
The Center invites all to visit the Mariandale website at Mariandale.org to discover the vast array of retreat and program offerings. The staff is especially excited to launch their new weekend retreat series for adults under 45. “This series focuses on relevant topics such as careers, career changes, outdoor exploration, and reading and relaxation,” explains Hanley. “Mariandale also offers a Sanctuary retreat for the LGBTQ community who are seeking spiritual exploration. The ‘Nuns and Nones’ retreats are also popular events, with Sisters and seekers spending time together discussing spirituality and its place in their lives.”
The Center at Mariandale welcomes all ages and is BIPOC and LGBTQ friendly.
Location: 299 North Highland Ave., Ossining, NY. For more information or to schedule an event at Mariandale, call 914-941-4455 or visit Mariandale.org.
Photos courtesy of Carolyn Coogan and The Center at Mariandale.
Erin Lehn is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.